Family of fallen soldier snubbed from dedication service

THE FAMILY of fallen RAF aircraftman Kinikki Griffiths are devastated after not being invited to a forthcoming dedication service marking the addition of his name to Exmouth’s war memorial.

Tracey Griffiths, mother of the 20-year-old who was killed in Afghanistan last year, said the fact they were not notified of the ceremony was like ‘twisting a knife’ into their grieving process.

A devastated Mrs Griffiths claimed her family were also not informed of the date when Kinikki’s name was initially added to the memorial.

In what he conceded to be an ‘embarrassing’ mistake, Tom Harvey-May, chairman of Exmouth’s Royal British Legion branch, was tasked with inviting the family when organisation of the event began in January.

Speaking about the dedication event, Mrs Griffiths said: “This is something meant to be for our son and we didn’t even know. It is an insult to his memory.

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“Everyday is a living hell. Everyday you struggle to get through and something like this gives you a further knock.”

The service was initially earmarked for February 19 but has now been cancelled as a result of the error. It is hoped to reschedule the ceremony for this April.”

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“When you’re organising such an event, contacting the families should be one of the first things you ensure is done,” said Mrs Griffiths.

“We knew there was going to be a service but had no idea what the date would be of when the names would be added.”

Mr Harvey-May embarked on a three week holiday last month and accepted he failed to make contact with the family before he left.

It was during his break that a date was set for the service. Mr Harvey-May delegated the task of assigning a time, during his absence, onto Lionel Howell, from the Exmouth War Memorial Fund.

The first occasion the Griffiths’ heard about the ceremony was when they read a publicity article in The Exmouth Journal three weeks ago.

It is understood that the widow of Corporal Stephen Walker, Leona, similarly, was not aware of the date.

Mrs Griffiths claimed the Royal British Legion had gone down in her estimation because of the distress the issue had caused.

“I am disgusted by them. How can they call themselves a charity to help families when all they have done is cause pain.”

Mr Harvey-May, who helped raise money for the names to be added to the memorial, apologised for the upset he had instigated.

He said: “I am sorry to the Griffiths’ family that this has happened in this way.

“I had hoped that the date Lionel (Howell) worked out would have been closer to the end of February. That would have made it far easier for when I came back off holiday to contact the Griffiths’ to confirm.”

Mr Harvey-May added: “I can only apologise because I went away, couldn’t change my plans and failed to contact them before I left.”

He agreed that ‘insufficient effort had been made to contact the Griffiths’ and he felt ‘embarrassed’ by the mistake.

Mr Harvey-May continued to say he would tender his resignation as a result of the error if it was requested by other members of the Royal British Legion.

He was also prepared not to attend the new date of the service if it would cause further distress to the family.

“I don’t feel I’m grossly out of line but, if my branch asks for my resignation then I will tender it,” he said.

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