I was lucky enough to be in Normandy for the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings.
For years veterans have travelled to Normandy on the 6th June to remember their comrades who never made it back from the beaches.
However for many of the veterans in attendance, it would be their last visit, as this year’s commemorations are the last to be officially marked by the Normandy Veterans Association which is disbanding in November.
I had previously visited the area ten years earlier for the 60th anniversary of the D-Day landings, when my family and I had taken my grandfather over to collect his 60th anniversary medal.
This time around, everything was on a much larger scale, there were events all along the Normandy coast and politicians and dignitaries from all over the world would be in attendance. With so many events and ceremonies taking place it was impossible to attend them all. Our first stop was Colleville-Montgomery, where a ceremony was to take place at Monty’s statue.
At 11am the veterans marched in with standards held high, the response they got from the crowd and townspeople was amazing.
After taking their seats, the Mayor of Colleville-Montgomery addressed the crowd and relayed his thanks to the veterans.
Next were speeches by George Batts and David Baines of the Normandy Veterans Association.
The following day we headed for Arromanches, site of Gold Beach, where British troops arrived on D-Day. When we arrived the town was packed, it seemed like the whole of Normandy had come out to show their gratitude to the veterans!
After a late lunch we made our way down to the square in front of the D-Day museum for another ceremony.
Unless you had a pass it really was standing room only, luckily my pass had arrived from the Ministry of Defence just a few days earlier and I headed for the seating area in the middle of the square.
Before the ceremony started, the crowds were entertained by flypasts by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. The planes looked spectacular with their distinctive D-Day markings.
Around 5pm, the Brass band started and the veterans marched once more into the square.
This was followed by a speeches by the Mayor of Arromanches and the Duke of Cambridge. Although it was a memorial service, the mood was upbeat and included sing-alongs like “We’ll meet again” and “Auld Lang Syne”.
We will remember them
As the ceremony came to a close, it dawned on me how lucky I was to be there for this historic event and to be able to show my appreciation to these brave men. And although the NVA will not be in attendance in the future, the people of Normandy, the family of veterans will continue to honour the memory of these men in the years to come.
To mark the 70th anniversary we are proud to announce we have worked with the Normandy Veterans Association to produce an exclusive brand new limited edition set of commemorative covers personally signed by 12 Normandy veterans.
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Managing Director, Ian Glen, helps you pick through the Royal Baby commemorative jungle.
It’s 9.57 am. Less than 24 hours after the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have been blessed with a new baby boy and a nation with its future King.
The Prince has not even been given a name yet but already there is a vast array of commemorative memorabilia.
One of our most important jobs is to select for you the very best commemorative issues that will mark the birth our future King in the most appropriate way and create a lasting heirloom that you can pass down to your children and grandchildren.
But which of the hundreds of commemorative pieces will stand the test of time?
Well let me share with you some of the elements that I believe are most important when we select the pieces we recommend to collectors.
1. Capture a moment in time
When there is a momentous occasion like a Royal Birth, I’m always keen to tie commemorative items back to that moment forever, which is why in my mind stamps create such a perfect collectable.
For example, we arranged well in advance for Royal Mail to hold a number of covers and other philatelic items ready for them to postmark with the all-important birth-date, as soon as it was announced.
These are true never-to-be repeated commemoratives, unlike so many items that will be manufactured for months after the birth.
2. History and heritage
By specialising in coins and stamps, we have already declared our hand that the best collectable items have a strong history and heritage. Coins, commemorative medals and stamps, of course, have long traditions as Royal Commemoratives and so make the perfect keepsake.
With much issuing information not yet in the public domain, you can also realistically expect British Isles issues, as well as coins and stamps from many key commonwealth countries to be announced over the coming days and weeks.
As always, the closer the links to the UK, typically the stronger the longterm heritage of the piece. And with a Christening some way off, I’m certain we have many important issues still to come.
3. Designed to stand the test of time
A commemorative piece should always be designed to create an enduring memory – something that you can pass down through the generations.
It is no coincidence that many of the most popular coins to be issued over the years feature heraldic representations. Rushed and imagined sketchy pictures of the Royal Couple and baby, bear little creative strength and over time risk looking tired and clichéd.
It’s also worth searching out something a little bit unusual – even unique – in the design, which is why I was delighted when we were able to select a silver commemorative design that actually contains the new Prince’s birthstone – a ruby – as an integral part of the design.
4. Edition limits that mean something
Of course, many Royal Baby commemoratives will be issued in limited editions – but that is only of real importance if demand is actually going to exceed supply, resulting in collectors missing out.
Of course, there is no hard and fast rule but I like to ensure that we work hard to select commemoratives with edition limits that should see sell-outs, helping to ensure their long-term collectability.
Finally, there is just one other thing to add. Enjoy your collecting.
By owning a Royal Commemorative, you are ensuring that not only you, but also your children and grandchildren, will forever have an element of connection to the moment when a nation celebrated the birth of its future King.
Just 11 days after Andy Murray raised the Wimbledon Men’s Singles Trophy at the all England Club, Royal Mail has announced that it is issuing a set of 4 stamps to celebrate the first British Wimbledon Champion in 77 years.
Andy Murray Stamps: An Impossible Issue?
A few years ago, this would have seemed an impossible issue for Royal Mail. Firstly, living people (other than the Royal Family) were simply banned from British stamps. Secondly, the Royal Mail of old would not have been nimble enough to deal with the complexities of such an issue in a short period of time.
But much has changed. In 2003 Royal Mail rushed through a Rugby World Cup Winners Miniature Sheet and two years later an Ashes Victory Miniature Sheet (could we see another this year?). But these, they argued did not feature individual players but instead celebrated the whole team’s achievement.
All Change for the Olympics
But everything changed for the Olympics as Royal Mail issued 63 Olympic and Paralympic Gold Medal Winner Stamps, taking the nation by storm. The result was the the greatest interest in stamps for 20 odd years and a final death knell in the living person taboo.
Andy Murray – the most celebrated living person on stamps
Of course, Andy Murray featured amongst those stamps – so with his 4 new stamps announced today, he holds a new title, alongside Wimbledon Champion. He is now the most celebrated non-Royal on British stamps.
So well done Andy and well done Royal Mail – we need you there to capture the mood of the nation.