Rochdale was plunged into darkness last night as council buildings, homes and businesses took part in LIGHTS OUT – a nationwide event to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War.
The Lancashire Fusiliers joined around 60 members of the public to watch as the lights at the magnificent Grade-I Listed Rochdale Town Hall were extinguished, save for a giant poppy and a giant single candle projected onto the side of the clock tower.
Councillor Alan McCarthy, Rochdale Borough Council’s Armed Forces Lead, said: “August 4 was exactly 100 years since the outbreak of ‘The Great War’ and we felt it important that we took a moment to reflect on the sacrifices that have been made for our freedom. Although Rochdale Town Hall was the centrepiece of our commemorations, many other public buildings throughout the borough took part in the event, as well as businesses and residents.”
Acting Chief Executive of Rochdale Borough Council, Linda Fisher, addressed the crowd to talk about why the council felt it was important to join the country in this event. The importance of commemorating our Armed Forces was discussed as well as the work that is happening across the borough to support our Armed Forces Families.
A two-minute silence was held to allow those gathered, both young and old, the chance to reflect on the day’s events and to remember those friends, families, neighbours and strangers who fought and gave their lives 100 years ago.
Guests were treated to light refreshments in the darkness.
LIGHTS OUT was the headline project of 14-18 NOW, the official cultural programme for the First World War Centenary Commemorations.
The inspiration for LIGHTS OUT comes from a famous remark made on the eve of the outbreak of war by the then Foreign Secretary, Sir Edward Grey: “The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our life-time”. Britain declared war on Germany at 11pm on 4 August 1914 ushering in one of the darkest periods in our history.
The LIGHTS OUT initiative was just one of a whole host of commemorative events planned by Rochdale Borough Council for this summer.
The famous Todmorden to Rochdale march by the Lancashire Fusiliers will be re-enacted on August 10, while the Corps of Drums will have a dedicated stand at Rochdale Feel Good Festival.
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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