Norwegian veterans visit Burnley for Remembrance visit

International friendships forged through football have been further embedded after a seven-day Remembrance visit to Burnley.

Veterans from Norway and their counterparts from Burnley Football Club in the Community Veterans’ Programme first met at an international football competition in Glasgow.

Veterans Project Officer at Burnley John Pluckwell said: “We were invited by Walking with the Wounded to represent England at the competition and afterwards we had many meetings with the Norwegians who initially wanted us to visit in June, but the war in the Ukraine changed plans.”

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John and his counterpart in Norway, Øivind Tangstad, known as Tank, then started discussing a Remembrance visit to Burnley as the two countries have very different commemorations.

Norway and Burnley veterans at Turf Moor

John said: “We had 24 veterans come over aged from 24 to 52. As there is still conscription in Norway everyone is a veteran unless they are in a protected profession.

“It was a bit of a shock to them at first when they arrived in Burnley as the town is one of the 11th most deprived in the country.”

They stayed at Burnley FCitC’s Whitehough Outdoor Activities Centre in Barley, Pendle amd enjoyed a week full of activities.

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Norway and Burnley veterans at the Burnley FC Memorial Garden

John said: “We had an advance party of two veterans who got to meet Burnley Football Club Chairman Alan Pace and went pitch-side.”

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They also met the Mayor of Burnley Coun. Cosima Towneley and Burnley Council Armed Forces Champion Coun. Charles Briggs and visited ladies at Weir Knit and Natter to thank them for their stunning poppy display for Whitehough.

Once the remaining 22 Norwegian veterans arrived the first of three football matches was held against Burnley veterans.

John said: “They joined poppy fundraising organised by The Royal British Legion in Burnley and were very enthusiastic and on Remembrance Sunday we all took part in the parade and service.

“They were amazed by the amount of people who attended the service and what it meant to the people of Burnley.”

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They then observed a further silence at Burnley’s derby match before watching the Clarets beat rivals Blackburn Rovers.

The veterans made a special thank you presentation to John and Coun. Phil Chamberlain, who drove them around, before they left for Norway.

John said there are plans for a return trip to Norway next June for a football tournament involving several European teams.