THE Wiltshire Armed Forces and Veterans Celebrations may have taken place for the last time in 2019 after the organising committee voted to dissolve - putting the future of one of Trowbridge’s major public events very much in doubt.

The unanimous decision means that the two-day event in June, which has been rated one of the 10 best in the country, will not take place next year unless another organisation or volunteers step forward to take it on.

Organising the weekend in the town park, which includes military displays, re-enactments and a parade through the town and drumhead service, goes on all year.

Maryrose Mantle, the WAFVC’s organiser for the past 16 years, had said that 2020 would be her last year as she wanted to spend more time with her family before Covid cancelled the plans for June.

She said: “There are no volunteers coming forward to take the role on and I had decided a couple of years back that I needed to take a back step.

“Unfortunately, others have also decided with work and family commitments priorities change.

“I’ve loved the event. I’ve loved the people I’ve met, the veterans, the serving, the cadets – we have three tremendous cadet units in Trowbridge which we should be really proud of.

“The traders, the charities, the associations – it’s become a family down there.

“It is hard work, I will say that. For whoever wants to take it on, it is a mammoth task but in the future the guidelines for events may change and it might be a golden opportunity for a different type of Armed Forces day to take place.”

Air Vice Marshal Martin Clark, of the Trowbridge and West Wilts Royal Air Force Association, said that Mrs Mantle was the life and soul of the organisers.

“It’s sad that it’s come to this but the reality is that there aren’t sufficient people around who have the time to try and run it – it’s a labour intensive job and the committee have done a tremendous job of running it,” he said.

“If there was the will among the community, including the Town Council, it could be done but it needs that will.

“That’s the challenge; to find a body of people who have the time or energy to be able to invest in being about to put on what’s been a great weekend over the years as a celebration of our armed forces.

“It’s been a trusty band of individuals who have worked tirelessly over the years to put it on and Maryrose Mantle has been a stalwart.”

Last year’s weekend in Trowbridge – held in competition with the national armed forces celebration event in Salisbury – attracted 20,000 visitors, its highest-ever attendance.

However, the 2021 event will now not take place unless volunteers can be found to help organise and run it.

They are being offered a £7,000 grant from Trowbridge Town Council towards the £20,000 cost.

Trowbridge councillor Geoff Wiffen praised the ‘fabulous’ fundraising done by Mrs Mantle, adding: “It is a shame because it is, in my opinion, the premier event.

“With 20,000 visitors and many, many more ex-service personnel living in Wiltshire that there aren’t more volunteers coming forward.”

The committee has decided that if the event folds, cash assets for the WAFVC will be distributed between the three cadet forces in Trowbridge, while other assets have been offered to Trowbridge Town Council.