There were mixed emotions at last weekend’s annual Italy Star Association reunion, as veterans and members agreed that this year would be their last gathering in Chichester.
Nevertheless, the event was still a success with 13 veterans, their families and friends joining together to celebrate at Bracklesham Bay.
The weekend included an open-air drumhead remembrance service on Sunday morning, supported by the Trafalgar Drummers, who were dressed in their Battle of Trafalgar costumes.
The service paid tribute not only to the Italy Star veterans who gave their lives in the campaigns, but also to those who are still carrying the flame onwards – all of them now in their 90s.
Chairman of the Italy Star Association, Mary Jux, spoke of the rewards of running the annual event as well as her sadness at the end of an era.
“The whole weekend was blessed with wonderful clear blue skies and as those who had stayed the weekend parted company on Monday morning to make homeward journeys. They left with heartfelt hugs for their long time friendships,” she said.
“We all feel dreadfully sad that this is our final reunion, but on a personal level – as the founders of the association were my late father and uncle – I cannot put into words how emotional I feel.”
Mrs Jux continued to say the sad decision was reached due to a fall in numbers of veterans and members of the association, as well as the cost involved in putting on a reunion.
She added: “On a positive note, so many friendships have been forged during the years, that any future gatherings will be solely to keep everyone in touch, and always be able to raise a glass ‘to absent friends’.”
As well as the Trafalgar Drummers, Dean Emeritus and councillor Peter Budge, mayor of Chichester, were also special guests at the event and joined the association for Sunday lunch after the service.