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OTA contributes to Victoria Cross, Juno beach initiatives

TORONTO, Ont. -- The OTA today marked Remembrance Day by donating funds to two related initiatives.

TORONTO, Ont. — The OTA today marked Remembrance Day by donating funds to two related initiatives.

The Ontario Trucking Association will be making a donation of $10,000 to the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion Trust (which is raising money to keep the Victoria Cross won by the late Cpl. Fred Topham of Toronto on display in Canada) and $2,500 to the Juno Beach Centre in Normandy, France commemorating Canada’s sacrifice during WWII.

OTA president David Bradley made the announcement at the association’s 78th annual convention opening breakfast this morning.

The $12,500 will be donated from the proceeds of the OTA convention. And convention delegates (some 4,000 or more over the two days of the convention) will be asked to contribute individually.

"Trucking is a proud Canadian industry. Many members of the trucking industry were among those who made the supreme sacrifice in both WWI and WWII. We think it’s essential to keep their memories and the memory of all those who served alive,” said Bradley. "This is the first time that our convention was held on Nov. 11. We wanted to do more than simply observe a moment of silence at 11 am."
"The generous contribution of the Ontario Trucking Association goes a long way toward ensuring that we keep Cpl. Topham’s Victoria Cross in Canada for all to see and remember the sacrifices of our veterans," said Lt. Col.

John Fotheringham, from The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada.
"Juno Beach Centre is delighted that OTA is purchasing a brick because we are keen to continue to recognize all of the organizations who are contributing to these worthwhile projects," said Garth Webb, president of the Juno Beach Centre.

Bradley said the association had been discussing making a contribution to the Juno Beach Centre for some time, and that many association members were touched by the story that came to light recently that the Victoria Cross (the Commonwealth’s highest military honour) won by Mr. Topham during the Battle of the Rhine in 1945 could be bought by a private collector. (Mr. Topham died in 1974. He and his wife had no children and the medal was not bequeathed by his wife when she passed away in 2001 to any person or institution. The beneficiaries could not agree what to do with the medal so the executor is left having to sell it to settle the estate.)

"We’d like to see the medal stay on display in a Canadian museum," said Bradley.

The Juno Beach Centre, which opened last June in Courseulles-sur-Mer on the site where Canadians first stormed the Normandy beaches, is a memorial education centre informing visitors of Canadian participation in WWII, the contribution on the home front and Canada’s emergence as an important participant on the world stage.

A commemorative brick bearing the name of the Ontario Trucking Association will be mounted on next year’s D-Day anniversary.

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