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Assington award winners, near Sudbury, hope to inspire others to increase support for Armed Forces community

The creator of one of the region’s biggest school-led remembrance services has implored more organisations to support their Armed Forces community, after presenting an award to a local business.

Assington Autos received the Bronze Award from the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme this week, in recognition of its work to integrate military veterans into the workforce.

The award for the scrap metal dealership in Breakers Yard comes after it recently signed up to the Armed Forces Covenant.

Adam Cooper, Frederick Cook, David Wiles and Fletcher Joyce at Assington Autos. Picture: Mark Bullimore
Adam Cooper, Frederick Cook, David Wiles and Fletcher Joyce at Assington Autos. Picture: Mark Bullimore

This is a national pledge to ensure military personnel and their families are treated fairly in all areas of society.

Chief executive Frederick Cook said: “I’m very pleased that we are now signatories to the Armed Forces Covenant, and have also been given the Bronze Employer Award.

“This shows our support and commitment to our Armed Forces and their families. I hope other Babergh and Suffolk businesses will do the same.”

The accolade was presented by Assington parish councillor David Wiles, who himself was recently honoured with the prestigious Sir George Creasey Badge, for outstanding services to the Royal British Legion (RBL).

Mr Wiles founded and organised the Tabor Academy Festival of Remembrance between 2010 and 2020, having started it as a memorial for the uncle of two of his students, who died in conflict in Afghanistan.

The service has grown into a major annual RBL-backed remembrance event, commemorating a different point in history each year, and widely attended by military personnel and government officials.

Mr Wiles, who has veterans in the First and Second World Wars on both sides of his family, said his goal is to ensure the sacrifice of our ancestors is never forgotten by the younger generations.

He told SuffolkNews: “I’ve been very fortunate to be a part of it for so long, but the biggest thing was that I had over 2,000 children leaving school knowing exactly what remembrance was.

“If you look at the school curriculum, children study Japan, Nazi Germany, Auschwitz and so on – but there’s nothing about what our boys did in the war. So, I wanted to promote that in the children.

“My passion is to make sure that veterans are never forgotten. I’m extremely proud of what we did. When I finished, the service was at the point where it couldn’t get any bigger.”

A resident of Assington for 11 years, Mr Wiles remains involved with the RBL via the Nayland branch, supporting the Poppy Appeal and serving as deputy standard bearer every Remembrance Sunday.

He said he hoped the award for Assington Autos would inspire other businesses to do the same for Armed Forces veterans in their communities.

“For businesses to support serving soldiers, or those who have just finished, with employment or giving them a helping hand, I can’t promote that enough,” he added.

“People need to recognise that these men and women put their lives on the line for us. When they come out of it, the least we can do is to help them out.”