A Royal British Legion stalwart is bidding an emotional final salute to Market Harborough after 12 years.
John Morley 77, is looking forward to exciting new adventures as he leaves the town to live outside Basingstoke, Hampshire – to be much nearer his daughter Fran and son Nick.
The popular former president and chairman of Market Harborough’s Royal British Legion (RBL) branch will be heading south with his wife Kathie to start a new chapter in their lives on Friday May 21.
“I’ve got very mixed emotions about leaving here.
“We have been here in Market Harborough for 12 years and we’ve loved it.
“Both the town and the area have welcomed and embraced us from the start and we’ve really appreciated that,” said John, who also has a grand-daughter Chloe.
“But we are also looking forward to moving much nearer to our son and daughter.
“It’s important to be close by your family as you get older.
“And we can’t wait to explore new opportunities, enjoy new possibilities and make new friends.”
A priest for over 52 years, the retired RAF Wing Commander has served as president of Market Harborough’s RBL unit for four years before handing over the reins of office to Cllr Barbara Johnson.
“I was chairman of the Legion here for about three years as well before that.
“We’ve built up a first-class branch here.
“I know that I’m leaving it in good hands with Barbara taking over as president and Stewart Harrison as chairman,” said John, who served in the RAF for 16 years.
“I came here determined to make a real difference.
“I’ve been very involved in setting up and running our fantastic Poppy appeals and Remembrance Day services.
“I’ve also played a big part in staging our Armed Forces Day events in Welland Park in Market Harborough.
“These have proved very popular with so many people in the town and helped to showcase our brilliant armed forces at their very best,” said the veteran churchman.
“I have also served as chaplain to our branch of the Royal Naval Association and helped support our Sea Cadets.
“Working with the cadets has been a lot of fun – they are the best of British youth to my mind.”
Both John and his wife Kathie are keen to get behind their local RBL branch when they move to Hampshire.
“We’ll be doing our bit to support the Legion along with former servicemen and women and their families when we go.
“It’s also a great way of making new friends and quickly becoming integrated into the local community,” said John.
“I’ll also still be up for carrying out church services where ever and when ever I’m needed.
“Once a clergyman always a clergyman!
“Finally I’d like to say a huge thank you to all the good people of Market Harborough and this area who have made our stay here such a lovely one.
“I’m sure we’ll very much keep in touch with all the friends that we have made here – we will never forget them.”
Paying tribute to John, local RBL chairman Stewart Harrison said: “John has done a first-class job as our president over the last few years.
“He’s worked tirelessly to promote the vital work that we do and helped us to raise many thousands of pounds to fund the critical work that we do.
“John has carried out his tasks with distinction, dignity and total dedication.
“Every one of us in the Market Harborough branch of the RBL would like to thank him for the brilliant work he has done,” said the RAF and Army veteran.
“And we wish John all the best for the rest of his life as he leaves us after all this time.
“He will always be a dear and valued friend of the legion in our town.”