D-day celebrations in Chard and Ilminster

Alan Hayman

D-day celebrations in Chard and Ilminster

D-day celebrations in Chard and Ilminster

Arthur Helbert

First published in Ilminster

A D-DAY veteran from Chard has relived some of his memories when he used to entertain the troops with his piano skills.

Alan Hayman, 80, of Halcombe, was told he would never play the piano because he was born with deformed fingers, the middle two digits of each hand, joined together.

But when he was ten, Mr Hayman would join a line-up of musicians and vocalists and perform the soldiers in packed venues including Dunkeswell air base, Marlpits Hospital and the Army barracks at Heathfield.

Mr Hayman also said he would accompany soldiers during target practice on fields between Whitebridges and Round Ball Hill before the area was swamped by housing.

In other D-Day activities, children from Manor Court School, Redstart School and Avishayes School went to Chard Museum on Friday to meet several Chard veterans from the D-Day landings 70 years ago.

Chard Mayor Jenny Kenton made food from wartime recipes and explained rationing to the children.

Town Crier Stuart Cummings welcomed the children in his traditional and expressive way.

In Ilminster, Cllr Linda Vijeh held a wine and war evening, which raised £366 for the Royal British Legion.

Arthur Helbert, who as a Royal Engineer landed on Sword beach on D-Day, and former WREN, Elfreda Hardiman, who was posted to Portsmouth in a welfare role, gave a talk at the event at The Shrubbery Hotel.

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