On 8 August 2018, Maddie Hempell joined Legion representatives from around the world to visit the battlefields of the Somme and Ypres before marching to the Menin Gate.
At 17, Army Cadet Maddie was one of the youngest to march at Great Pilgrimage 90.
Despite her age, Maddie has already marched in local Remembrance Day parades with Rainbows, Brownies, Guides and Army Cadets. When her Royal British Legion branch was looking for a new Standard Bearer, Maddie’s Detachment Commander put her name forward for the job.
She became the Standard Bearer for the branch a year ago and in November 2017 led the Remembrance Day parade in her local town. Maddie attends monthly meetings at her local branch and is one of the youngest members.
The event was a recreation of the 1928 Great Pilgrimage, whereby veterans and widowed wives visited the battlefields of the Somme and Ypres before marching to the Menin Gate.
Maddie’s mum, Sandra has always instilled in her the importance of remembrance and when marching Maddie often wears her Great Grandad's medals from the Second World War.
Sandra spoke about the family's military connections and the importance of this event for her:
“My maternal grandad fought in the Second World War and so I have always instilled in my children the importance of remembering fallen or injured soldiers.
"I remember him telling us tales of when he was in the Army, (and singing us songs…until my grandma stopped him as the words weren’t always for ‘young ears’).
"I never met my paternal Grandad as he died when my dad was a small baby, but I understand he was a pilot who was shot down as he flew over Beachy Head.”
Maddie is honoured to have taken part in GP90.Sandra
“I feel it is extremely important that people continue to support the Royal British Legion in both a monetary and physical way. It is so important that the younger generations fully understand the commitment and sacrifice that soldiers fighting in all wars give. I work in an infant school and we always have a minute’s silence on Remembrance Day, I try very hard to ensure the children understand why we do this.”
“I am extremely proud that Maddie is the Standard Bearer for Spondon Royal British Legion and was the proudest mum ever when she led the Remembrance Day parade last year. To march alongside her at GP90 will be a very emotional and proud time for me. It is an absolute honour to have the chance to be part of such an epic occasion.”