Gala nights will raise cash for Hayling Island memorial

BIG IDEA 'An artist's impression of the proposed memorial
BIG IDEA 'An artist's impression of the proposed memorial
Pupils from Cliffdale Primary Academy

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A GALA weekend of theatre, music and memories hopes to raise thousands of pounds for a memorial to a secret Second World War command unit.

The Combined Operations Pilotage Parties is to be recognised with a 20ft granite stone on Seafront, Hayling Island where the unit was based.

Campaigners behind the memorial need to raise around £30,000 and have organised two cabaret nights on Friday and Saturday, at Station Theatre, Hayling Island.

Jim Booth, 89, one of the only surviving members of the unit, will be interviewed by sailor Alan Priddy about his role in the dangerous missions in the run-up to D-Day.

Audiences will also watch the premiere of the newly-completed 40-minute film Hayling at War.

On both nights the film will be followed by music and song featuring some of the favourite numbers of the war years.

On Friday, the glamorous Sorority Trio will perform and on Saturday night the Three Belles will be singing songs in the close harmony style of the Andrews Sisters.

COPP was set up by Lord Louis Mountbatten, head of Combined Operations, who was great uncle to Prince Charles.

Made up of 200 men, the unit saved the lives of many thousands of servicemen.

Because of the family connection Prince Charles has agreed to be patron of the committee.

The army has agreed to transport the enormous, obelisk-like 10-ton lump of granite to Hayling Island when the site is ready.

Meanwhile Keith Potts, manager of recruitment firm Jobsite has pledged £2,000 to the cause.

He said: ‘We’re a local firm and are keen to support community initiatives like this.

‘Robin Walton has done some incredible research to get the recognition that these brave men deserve, their story is fascinating.

‘Hopefully our donation will see other local businesses following suit for this worthy cause.’

Tickets are available from Station Theatre, Station Road, Hayling, at £10.