A CROWD of up to 3,000 people defied cold and blustery weather to gather in Redditch town centre this morning for the Remembrance Sunday service at St Stephen’s Church.
Long term organiser of the parade and former member of the Paratroop Regiment Barry Tanzey described it as ‘possibly the best act of remembrance in the town yet’.
“I’m very emotional about this,” he said.
“I’ve organised these parades elsewhere in the past and six men and a dog have turned up.
“But here in Redditch it just gets better and better and you’d have to say this is the best one yet.”
Special guests included Chelsea Pensioner Simon de Buisseret, who’s son lives in Redditch, the Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Worcestershire, Andrew Grant, representing the Queen, as well as borough Mayor Jenny Wheeler, former Mayor Madge Tillesley MBE and local MP Rachel Maclean marking her first Remembrance Sunday parade in Redditch.
The service was conducted by town centre chaplain and vicar of St Stephen’s the Reverend Paul Lawlor who took as his theme the importance of looking forward with hope and peace in our hearts as well as looking back and remembering the sacrifices of those who went before us.
“It’s easy to look back with anger and frustration as we remember the dark days, but can we remember the hope that broke through in our hearts when World War I ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month?
“Most of us, thank God, can only stand and imagine what these battlefields like Passchendaele were like.
“Most of us, thank God, will never stand on an active battlefield, but that does not mean that all of us, everyone of us, cannot strive for peace, can we seek to love, and not hate, that all of us can work towards what builds up all our shared lives and not just our own lives?”
The act of remembrance had started just after 10.30am when the band of the Sea Cadets, assembled outside Hughes Electrical, struck up and the parade, marshalled by Squadron Sergeant Major Paul Hall and including Simon de Buisseret, began their march up Alcester Street.
On their journey to the war memorial they were joined outside the Town Hall by all the local dignitaries.
The final act of remembrance was the laying of wreaths at the foot of the monument, and this year there was more than ever.
All sections of the borough took part, including those from the Sikh, Hindu, Moslem, Caribbean and Polish communities, all of whose peoples had fought for this country in two world wars and later conflicts.
Speaking after the ceremony the leader of Redditch Borough Council, Councillor Bill Hartnett, said: “It’s a very proud day for Redditch.
“The streets of the town were jam-packed with people for the remembrance parade, in this, the 99th year since the guns in the First World War fell silent.
“We were also lucky to have Simon De Buisseret, resplendent in his scarlet uniform, joining us.
“Work is already underway preparing for next year’s event, the 100th anniversary.”
Mr De Buisseret said he was delighted to be in Redditch and to represent the Chelsea Pensioners in the town.
“I love Redditch, my son lives here and I used to live not far away in Warwick,” he said.
“I thought the service was very well done indeed, very solemn, and I was delighted to be here.”
Redditch MP Rachel Maclean, who was there for the first time as the town’s Member of Parliament said: “It was a great honour to pay respects to our fallen, and to show support for current servicemen and women, as part of these services in Redditch.
“It was also a great honour to play my part in the ceremony by laying a wreath. The crowds in the town centre were impressive and it showed the immense regard residents have for those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.”