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Whaley Bridge Centenary remembrance ceremony to go ahead

Judy Brown

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Whaley Bridge Remembrance Sunday Whaley Bridge Park

The memorial cross in Whaley Bridge park which was shattered

The memorial cross in Whaley Bridge park lies broken in three pieces, but on Sunday 11 November the act of remembrance and wreath-laying ceremony will go ahead as planned. The four-panelled plinth bearing the names of those killed in war remains undamaged and the grassy bank in front of it will be covered in poppies and wooden crosses. As Royal British Legion representative John Baker says, ‘we will be there to remember fallen men and women, not a column of stone.’ 

On the night of 25 September, an oak tree collapsed onto the war memorial, shattering its pillar. Although the tree was in full leaf and firmly rooted, its trunk had split and was found to be hollow. The branches had to be cut away carefully to relieve the weight on the memorial, but most have now been removed and the site is safe. Stonemasons are looking at how to restore the cross. 

106 men from Whaley Bridge were killed in the First World War. 106 crosses, one for each of them, will be placed on the bank before the memorial, each cross showing the name, regiment and home area. At dusk, candles will light up the scene. Friends of the Memorial Park will also create a field of poppies at the site.

As planned, a short act of remembrance will take place at 10.45am on Saturday 10 November at the Jodrell Arms. Then, on Remembrance Sunday, the service in the park will start at 10.30am and the Last Post will sound at 11am. Ceremonies will also be held at Bridgemont, Furness Vale and Kettleshulme. 

On the Sunday evening, four braziers representing Whaley’s Beacon of Light will be lit at the war memorial. After a concert and meal at the Uniting Church, a lantern procession will make its way to the park. At 7pm the Last Post will sound and then church bells will ring out, joining peals from all over the country to commemorate the end of the Great War.

Poppies and wreaths are supplied by the Royal British Legion. John Baker, who has organised this service for 14 years, stresses how important it is to go on remembering how our grandparents and great-grandparents fought for us. ‘We owe it to them to keep their memory alive,  the thousands who went to war and met unbearable terrors – pain, fear, mud and wholesale slaughter – in the name of peace and freedom. They fought for ideals we take for granted at human costs we can barely imagine.’ RBL has fewer members these days, but its mission continues. If you are interested in sharing its work and values or could spare an hour or two to sell poppies, please contact John Baker on 0793 888 1096 or 01663 719446.