TWO crowds met in Chippenham town centre on Saturday - but fears of a clash were averted.

Around 150-200 protestors, young, old, black and white, many carrying banners and signs, turned up for the Black Lives Matter protest.

Around 20 others surrounded the town's war memorial - fearing it might be defaced or damaged by the crowd.

Six liaison police officers were present at the event, which passed off with no arrests or fixed penalties, with police clearly relaxed about social distancing restrictions.

Achaynie Blake, one of the BLM organisers said she was delighted with the turn out.

"It has gone really well, and the fact we had so many people stand up to the open mic and say what they said was amazing."

After the crowd knelt in symbolic silence for eight and three quarter minutes - the amount of time George Floyd was said to have had a policeman's knee on his neck - she set a run of around ten the speeches going, with an impassioned cry that "racism is a pandemic."

"I am not an aggressive black woman," she told the crowd. "It is not white versus black, it is everyone versus the racists."

Just a hundred yards away, another crowd gathered around the town's war memorial.Colin Bell, a former soldier in the Signals from Chippenham, said he was there to make sure no one desecrated the memorial.

"We don't want trouble," he said. "We are just showing a presence. We are worried that people are using this BLM movement for a reason to cause trouble and violence.

"I think we have a right to protest in this country and if they feel they have a beef they should be allowed to protest and have a voice. No problem with that at all."

Charlotte Howard and Moray MacDonald from Melksham stood at the back. "It has been good, really moving and interesting and I am glad we could show our support," said Moray.