This Saturday’s game against Walsall will see a bucket collection for the Somme Memorial FundCollectors will be around the stadium pre-match with the money raised helping to provide ongoing financial support for the upkeep and maintenance of the Clapton Orient Memorial in the village of Flers, Somme, France which commemorates the sacrifice and service made by the players, staff and supporters of Clapton Orient Football Club in the Great War.
The O’s Somme Memorial Fund was instigated by Supporters Club Deputy Chairman Steve Jenkins, further to the publication of the first edition of his book They Took The Lead and the two successful Somme trips in 2006 and 2008.
Steve’s ambition was to have a permanent memorial erected in the Somme region of northern France to commemorate the service and sacrifice made by Clapton Orient Football Club during the Great War. The O’s were the first English football club to enlist en masse when over forty players, staff and supporters signed on the dotted to line to serve King and Country.
The O’s Somme Memorial Fund was formed in August 2009, with O’s legend Peter Kitchen agreeing to be patron and O’s fan Theresa Burns being appointed treasurer and secretary to work with Steve to raise the money for the memorial. Various fund-raising activities were held and special items were made available to purchase - with the O’s Somme badge being the most popular. The badge is still available from Steve or the Supporters Club for a minimum donation of £4.99. A new car sticker is also now on sale for £2.99 and is selling fast.
As a result of the magnificent support, not by only O’s supporters but also friends of the Club around the country and abroad, the O’s Somme Memorial was erected in the village of Flers on Sunday July 10, 2011 - the highlight of the Somme trip held that year.
With the Memorial now established, it is vitally important that its on-going care and maintenance is in place and this is one of the reasons why the O’s Somme Memorial Fund is still looking to raise money. There are also other on-going projects that will need financing, Steve Jenkins adds, ‘We are actively pursuing the possibility of a second O’s memorial, this time to be erected at a prominent location in this country and we look forward to announcing further details should this come to fruition and sufficient funding is in place’.