Around 60 members of the public joined town centre Chaplain Rev Margaret Smith for a poignant service at Rochdale Memorial Gardens on Monday – marking the day Britain declared war.
MP Simon Danczuk, councillors, council staff and members of the public met for a candlelit vigil, led by the town centre chaplain. The service was organised to remember all those who gave their lives so valiantly and included prayers, hymns and a reading of the poem ‘For the Fallen’ written by Lawrence Binyon.
Councillor Alan McCarthy, Rochdale Borough Council’s Armed Forces Lead, said:
“The attendance of the peace and prayer vigil service was fantastic; it showed how much the borough cares about remembering those who sacrificed their lives in ‘The Great War’. The service was very humbling and offered a chance to reflect on the brave men and women who served and fought a hundred years ago. Monday was just the start of the borough’s extensive commemoration plans.”
Leading the service, town centre Chaplain Rev Margaret Smith described the service as ‘humbling to have led it’:
“It was a great response by the public who attended the service. It was important to the church to remember World War One without glorifying the war and instead focusing on the peace. The vigil was perfect as it allowed people to think about the implications which were felt throughout the world.”
Activities were held throughout the borough on Monday to mark the day Britain went to war including an afternoon story time event and vigil in Number One Riverside. The day culminated at 10pm when the Town Hall and various other public buildings and homes in the borough joined in with a national ‘Lights Out’ campaign. Rochdale Borough Council has lots more events planned to commemorate World War One which can be found on the council website listed below.
Acting Chief Executive, Linda Fisher said: “The Great War affected the lives of many families in Rochdale borough so it’s important that we reflect and remember the huge sacrifices of our Armed Forces and their loved ones. We have a fantastic programme of commemorative events planned and I hope everyone will get involved during this important year.”
The council signed the Armed Forces Community Covenant in 2012 – a statement of support between a civilian community and its Armed Forces community. But actions speak much louder, and Rochdale has been nationally recognised by the Ministry of Defence, Royal British Legion and others for introducing pioneering changes to support armed forces personnel and their families back into civilian life.
For more information on Armed Forces events, World War One commemorations, or about signing the covenant visit www.rochdale.gov.uk/armedforces, email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 01706 926989.
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