September 29th, 2016

Crowds turnout to pay respects to war dead

Updated: 10:21 am, May 07, 2015

TURNOUT for this year’s Remembrance Sunday services across the area are being hailed the largest in living memory.

Police say the numbers attending in Redditch were ‘unprecedented’ as hundreds of people crammed into the town centre on Sunday (November 9) to pay their respects to those who lost their lives in two world wars as well as conflicts since.

This year’s event had added significance due to the 100th anniversary of the First World War.

Among the dignitaries attending was the Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Worcestershire Andrew

Grant who laid a wreath on behalf of The Queen and also read a poem by Redditch war poet Ernest Denny, uncovered as part of the Remembering Redditch’s Fallen Heroes project.

Rev Paul Lawlor said the crowd was testament to the borough’s desire not to forget.

“We come together today as the community of Redditch to look back, to look at the present and to look forward.”

The theme of this year’s Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal is Live On and Rev Stephen Levett told the crowd the challenge was for them to live their lives in a way worthy of the sacrifice and suffering made by military personnel and their families.

“The challenge for each of us is how we might live this out in daily living, finding ways to lay down our lives for one another in normal life as well as in times of conflict. If we can live on in this way, with all the good that flows from such a pattern of life, then the suffering of the dead and the living which we mark today will not have been in vain.”

Afterwards two minutes of silence was observed and wreaths laid by numerous dignitaries and organisations including members of the Mercian Regiment and 37 Signal Regiment.

Tributes were also laid on behalf of Easemore Road Mosque and the town’s Muslim community.

In Astwood Bank extra seating had to be provided in the Church of St Matthias and St George for the service of remembrance which preceded the silence and wreath laying at the memorial on the Evesham Road.

Ron Gurden, president of Astwood Bank RBL, said: “I believe it was the largest turnout we have seen and I think it being the centenary of the First World War had a lot to do with it, it has been in the papers and the media and people have responded to that.”

In Studley the crowd was described as being in the region of 400 with Peter Smith, chairman of the village branch of the RBL, calling it ‘absolutely brilliant’.

The scene was repeated in Alcester where more than 400 people lined the streets around St Nicholas’ Church to pay their respects with about 300 people of all ages in the parade itself.

The 25th Festival of Remembrance Concert at The Greig Centre the night before was also a sell out with over 400 people attending, with many moved to tears by a reading of a First World War poem by Hugh Goudie, the first Alcestrian to leave for the conflict.

David Malin, secretary of Alcester RBL, said: “It is very moving to see so many people supporting such an important day.”

A service of remembrance will take place at the memorial in Plymouth Road in Redditch on Tuesday (November 11) armistice day itself from 10.45am. A small informal parade and service will also take place at the same time around the memorial in Alcester.

Rev Paul Lawlor said the size of the crowd was a testament to the desire of the people of Redditch not to forget. Pictures by Alex Bradbury unless otherwise stated 4614013ABR8

The crowd for this year’s Remembrance Service in Redditch has been called the largest in living memory. Similar scenes were repeated around the area. 4614013ABR7

The parade makes its way up Alcester Street to the memorial 4614013ABR5

Mayor Pat Witherspoon lays her wreath 4614013ABR21

The standards are lowered as the crowd fell silent. 4614013ABR19

Wreaths were laid on behalf of the town’s Muslim community amongst others. 4614013ABR15

Young and old attended the service in Redditch. 4614013ABR1

Up to 400 people attended the service in Studley. Picture by Mike Ford (s)

Crowds line up at the Astwood Bank War Memorial. (s)