Emotions flying high as flag fury erupts in town

Sailor John Henderson at the war memorial and flagpole in Amble Town Square.
Sailor John Henderson at the war memorial and flagpole in Amble Town Square.
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A row erupted in Amble after a member of the Armed Forces lowered the town’s Union flag to half mast in respect of murdered soldier Lee Rigby – only to discover that it had been raised to the top again by council staff.

John Henderson, who serves with the Royal Navy, took it upon himself to make the gesture in the town’s Memorial Gardens. He moved the flag to half mast at midnight last Wednesday, just hours after Drummer Rigby was murdered in Woolwich, with the intention of raising it again 24 hours later.

But he was horrified to discover that, at around 4pm on the Thursday, Amble Town Council had asked an employee to return the flag to full mast.

Mr Henderson, from Amble, then pulled it back to half mast and it remained that way until midnight.

The 26-year-old vented his fury about the council’s stance on the Gazette’s Facebook page and his comments prompted hundreds of angry comments.

However, the town council has defended its approach.

The authority said that it ordered the flag to be returned to full mast because it was not aware of the reasons why it had been lowered as no formal approach had been made.

The council added that it was following accepted protocol, but it has agreed to fly the flag at half mast on the day of Lee Rigby’s funeral.

The flag is being repaired after being damaged by high winds. A new halyard is also needed.