War memorial jibe refuted

PUBLISHED: 15:36 04 August 2008 | UPDATED: 09:26 10 June 2010

MONDAY, AUGUST 4: EXMOUTH'S Royal British Legion poppy appeal organiser has hit out at accusations over claims he is against the Strand Garden war memorial cross and wants it removed in favour of a non-religious symbol. Executive vice president and poppy appeal organiser

EXMOUTH'S Royal British Legion poppy appeal organiser has hit out at accusations over claims he is against the Strand Garden war memorial cross and wants it removed in favour of a non-religious symbol. Executive vice president and poppy appeal organiser Tom Harvey-May, of Links Close, said the claims are wrong and he has been misunderstood.Mr Harvey-May said he was not pushing for the cross to be moved or removed and that he regarded himself as a custodian of the war memorial because of his involvement with the Royal British Legion.He said his own personal religious beliefs had no bearing on his recent comments that other faiths could find the cross offensive. Or that the politically-correct brigade could push for an obelisk, needle or monument to replace the granite memorial if the existing stone cross was moved."I am not a Christian, I am a Unitarian. It means I believe in God, I go to church regularly, but I am not a Christian as such," said Mr Harvey-May. "I am a newcomer in Exmouth. I have only been here 20 years. It's not up to me to change this cross." Mr Harvey-May said talks had been held with Devon County Council's urban design team and the district council about revitalising the Strand Gardens but no plans or proposals to alter the Strand Gardens or war memorial had been made. He said the people of Exmouth had been involved with the talks and there was an ample budget to complete the works if they were welcomed."The Royal British Legion is open-minded about re-siting the memorial within the gardens," said Mr Harvey-May. "The reason we are open - minded is simply because the remembrance parade has grown in popularity over the past 10 years and attracts well over 2000 spectators, but there have been complaints that, in some areas, spectators are unable to hear or see the padre, the VIPs, the proceedings and the ceremony.

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