MORE than 1,000 people attended the Remembrance Sunday parade in Redditch today (Sunday), the largest gathering for such an event in many a year.
As well as civic dignitaries, led by Borough Mayor Councillor Pattie Hill and Andrew Grant, the Deputy Lord Lieutenant for the County, members of all the Armed Forces were present as well as Police Officers, Cadets, Scouts, Guides, the Young Firefighters Association and Veterans in addition to well-wishers and family members and members of all Redditch communities.
During his welcoming service the Vicar of St Stephens, the Reverend Paul Lawlor, said: “Another year has passed of significant anniversaries. VE and VJ Days commemorated, 75 years since the Battle of Britain, with aircraft parts manufactured within spitting distance of here.
“Let us not forget the contribution by members of our communities in these wars.”
After singing the hymn ‘O God Our Help in Ages Past’ he developed the theme of duty through the word ‘sent’.
Speaking to the assembled crowd in front of Redditch’s proud war memorial, he said: “Those named here offered themselves, in some way they chose to go – but having offered then they were sent. Sent where?
“…Did these men know where they were going or indeed what they were going to?
“…The men marked on this memorial and those around our town went to the First World War and the Second World War and today men and women still go…going not just to fulfil their own desire but a need to serve others.”
Prayers were then said for peace, that the tragedy and horror of war be averted for the coming generation and then men and women will live in freedom and fellowship.
Special mention was also made of those who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan and those currently serving, as well as for refugees and those fleeing oppression and violence.
Barry Tansley then read war poet Robert Binyon’s immortal lines from the poem ‘For the Fallen’:
“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.”
The Last Post sounded followed by two minutes silence followed by Reveille before the Seputy Lord Lieutenant read a poem by another war poet, Ernest Denny, who died in 1917:
“Here where we sleep in silence in unremembered
Graves by fallow fields and hedgerows.”
Following the wreath laying ceremony, led by the Deputy Lord Lieutenant, the Rev Lawlor led the throng into St Stephens for a special Remembrance Sunday service.
As he did so the sunshine broke through the clouds which had threatened rain an hour earlier as members of the Armed Forces, Cadets, Veterans, Guides and Scouts had gathered in the TJ Hughes car park in readiness for the march to the war memorial.
As they stepped out at 10.35am they were joined by the borough’s civic leaders outside the town hall and together they marched to the war memorial where the service took place.
The leader of Redditch council, Councillor Bill Hartnett said: “During the morning I was speaking to Staff Sergeant Saheed Khan (from Redditch) who serves at the MOD and is an assistant to the Islamic religious advisor.
“He was keen to mention the service given by Asians in the past two wars and particularly the first VC to won by an Indian soldier over 100 years ago (Dec 1914) by Khudadad Khan of the Indian Army presented by King George V in Buckingham Palace.
“I was also very pleased to see the representatives from the mosque at this year’s service and parade and laying a wreath at the memorial both a traditional poppy wreath and a rather beautiful and unique wreath.
“This year was another great turn out with around a 1,000 of both public and uniformed services. Redditch can be proud – “lest we forget”, honouring the people who have served and those that serve today protecting our liberty.”