Normandy hero Ken Cooke to be guest of honour on armed forces day

Published: 25 June, 2019 - 3:00 pm

York City Knights are proud to announce that they will once again be joining in the city’s annual Armed Forces Day programme, and will welcome a very special Guest of Honour to Sunday’s Betfred Championship game against Dewsbury Rams at Bootham Crescent.

Each year the Garrison City comes together to show support for our Armed Forces, Serving Personnel, Veterans, Cadets and their families. 

The programme for 2019 has developed partnerships with businesses and organisations locally to show their support alongside a city centre event to be staged on the National Armed Forces Day, Saturday 29th June 2019 (Parliament Street 11.00am – 4.00pm)

The city centre event looks to thank the serving personnel, veterans and cadets for all they do and have done on behalf of the country and to bring them together with the citizens of York and afar.

The event will include a small range of activities for the family, demonstrations, music, information stands and more.

In previous years the Armed Forces Event has attracted many individuals, a day of fun and entertainment with sincere appreciation for the Armed Forces at the heart of it.

The Knights then have a game at home to Dewsbury Rams the following day at Bootham Crescent, and we welcome everyone from the Armed Forces community to carry on their celebrations across the weekend. 

As part of the day, members from the Armed Forces will be our guests at the match, with a very special guest of honour on hand to present the match ball to the teams ahead of kick off at 3pm.

Ken Cooke is one of the last surviving D Day veterans from York, and has recently returned from a visit to Normandy to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the largest ever seaborne invasion on June 6, 1944.

Ken was just 18 when he was called up for service in December 1943. He left his parents’ home in York and after six weeks initial training joined the Green Howards. He had no inkling during his training of the daunting task that lay ahead. An estimated 10,000 Allied troops were either killed or injured, and tens of thousands more would join their ranks in the bitter struggle to loosen the grip of Nazi tyranny across Europe in the long months ahead.

Within a month of landing in France Ken was badly injured by a shell while on patrol. He suffered shrapnel wounds to his back and legs and was shipped back to England before spending five months convalescing in hospital.

But after recovering, rather than being discharged, he was sent to rejoin the British troops across The Channel. Not long afterwards he was injured a second time during a mortar attack outside Bremen in Germany. Ken suffered severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Ken eventually returned home to York after the war where he met and married a local girl called Joan with whom he had a family. He got a job with Rowntrees where he worked for nearly 50 years before retiring. In May 2016, he received the Legion d’ Honneur, France’s highest military honour.

Now 93, Ken remains an avid Knights fan and the only game he has missed at Bootham Crescent this year was the Toulouse game, while he was in France commemorating the D Day landings.

To show our gratitude to the men and women who serve our country, all Armed Forces members – past and present – with a Ministry of Defence ID card or veteran’s card will be allowed free entry to the match, along with anyone under the age of 16. Simply head to the Bootham Crescent club shop before the game on Sunday and show your military ID for your free ticket.

Knights owner Jon Flatman added: “York Armed Forces Day is fantastic event where our fantastic city can show its appreciation to the brilliant people that serve our country with such distinction. We thought it was only right to continue the celebrations at our game against Dewsbury Rams, and show gratitude in our own small way.

“We look forward to contributing to the event in Parliament Street on Saturday, and to hosting our guests – in particular our very special guest of honour Mr Ken Cooke – at what should be an exciting game on Sunday. A fantastic weekend awaits!”

To find out more about York Armed Forces Day 2019, please click HERE.

Knights 2020 season ticket renewals are on sale now, and will be on sale in the Bootham Crescent club shop this Sunday. Prices are frozen until July 31st as we prepare for our momentous move into the brand new York Community Stadium. For more information click HERE.