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Tribute to Rifleman Peter Aldridge @ Folkestone

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With a week to go before staging its tribute to Rifleman Peter Aldridge, Folkestone Invicta Football Club is delighted at the public response so far. An attendance well into the thousands is expected.


Amongst official guests on the night will be the Mayors of Croydon, Folkestone and Hythe, representatives of the Lord Lieutenant, emergency services, St John's Ambulance, The Royal British Legion and the RAF Association, the Football Association and the Ryman League. The Club has in the past few days received messages of support from the Commanding Officer of 4 Rifles (Rupert Jones), the Rt Hon Michael Howard QC MP and Arsenal Chairman Peter Hill-Wood.


Club Chairman Mr Lynn Woods is sure the official response will be matched by public support for its tribute. "We are very humbled that Mr and Mrs Aldridge and their family will be with us on Tuesday and we hope they will be comforted and lifted to know how much the loss of their son is felt by the community he served."


News of the Club's tribute has reached Afghanistan where Folkestonian and Invicta fan Ian Saunders serves as a Warrant Officer at Kandahar Air Base. Invicta website designer Sam Jones is in contact with WO2 Saunders and has sent an Invicta flag out to Kandahar. "Ian tells us that our recognition of Peter Aldridge is a great morale booster for the service people still out there and facing ongoing danger from the continued insurgency".


There is a musical flavour to the Club's commemoration, with the Sir Roger Manwood's School Combined Cadet Force Band set to play on the football pitch from 6.30pm. After the intended roll-call of schools and organisations scheduled for around 7.25pm, Invicta supporter John Fagg will play the Last Post, and there will then be a minute's silence during which RBL and RAFA will lower their standards. The senior players will link arms in tribute, with as many as possible of the football club's 200 junior players forming a supporting arc across the centre of the pitch.


There has been a good deal of media interest and the British Forces Broadcasting Service is amongst media organisations in contact with the Club. It is expected that they will be able to report the occasion back to forces in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the world.


The Club is working hard on its on-the-night arrangements. To ease possible congestion, gates will open from 5.30pm and the Stripes Club and ground catering points will be open from the same time.


The match has no entry fee.


The parking area in front of the Stripes Club will be reserved on the night for guests, and the Harvey Grammar School has kindly allowed the use of its paved area to the rear of the school for overspill parking. The Club is also asking people travelling by car to arrive early and to be prepared to walk from distance once local parking facilities are exhausted.


Chairman Woods is still keen for more local businesses and organisations to add their name to the roll-call. "Our timing is not ideal as most schools will remain on Easter holiday until the day before the event, but we will keep the list open to the last minute so that we can include as many clubs and schools as possible who are represented on the night".


A special matchday programme is being produced for the Croydon game, and retiring local MP Michael Howard, himself a regular at Invicta games, has provided a fitting foreword which speaks of the "courage, resolve and professionalism" of our Armed Forces, and our "immeasurable pride" in them.


Folkestone Invicta is itself both proud and privileged to be able to offer its community a stage upon which to demonstrate in abundance that sense of patriotism and pride.


It would be great if awareness of this event was spread across the leagues aswell as Folkestone, Kent, and the wider community. I am sure we have your support. Thank you and we hope some of you are available to pay your respects to a brave soldier.

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