THE son of a Second World War veteran has criticised council bosses for cancelling an annual tea dance usually enjoyed by dozens of decorated heroes.

Every summer Ian Jones makes the trip from his Yorkshire home to Clacton to visit his 95-year-old mother Rosalie.

Together the pair dress in their smartest clothes and join dozens of Second World War veterans at Clacton Town Hall.

Rosalie, who served in the Woman’s Auxilliary Air Force during the war, joins her fellow veterans for a meal, music and dancing.

Last year almost 50 veterans - most aged in their 90s and many decorated war heroes - attended the event, swapping stories and sharing memories.

“It is an occasion the veterans look forward to, where they can catch up with people,” said Mr Jones.

“It shows they are not forgotten and it is a way of paying them the respect they are owed.

“These people who did their bit during the Second World War are fading away with time.

“In two or three years time there could only be a handful left.

“They have a buffet and nice round tables where people can sit round and have a drink. They’ll play music and have a sing song.

"Last year a very dapper old lad came up and asked whether my mum wanted to dance.

“She loves the events and looks forward to them - she will always be asking me when we’re going back to the veterans’ day.”

Ian was left “bitterly disappointed” when he called the council and found the event would not be going ahead this year.

He criticised the decision to cancel the tea dance amid widespread commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings.

“I am proactive and managed to find out it isn’t going ahead this year by calling the council’s switchboard,” he said.

“But surely lots of elderly attendees will be unaware it has ended.

“Anyone with a bit of sense would see cancelling it on such an important anniversary is a bad move.”

The council first organised a tea dance for veterans in 2005 to mark the 60th anniversary of the Second World War.

More than 200 attended, encouraging organisers to make it a regular fixture in the council’s calender.

Since then, the tea dance has been held almost every year - often with the support of the Royal British Legion.

A Tendring Council spokesman said: “Having run the veterans’ tea dance for a number of years and following the large-scale commemoration events held last year to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War, it was felt it may be an appropriate time to end the event.

“Additional consideration was given to the fact it was originally set-up as an event for Second World War veterans, and sadly there are fewer and fewer such veterans surviving today.

“We understand there is a desire to hold some sort of event and we are talking with our partners about what format the event may take and how we can support it.”