New memorial seats to remember fallen

Army veteran Dave Herne pictured at the memorial bench that has been installed at Sanderson Arcade in Morpeth.

Army veteran Dave Herne pictured at the memorial bench that has been installed at Sanderson Arcade in Morpeth.

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Two new seats to remember those from Morpeth who were in the Armed Forces and did not return from conflicts have now been put in place in two locations.

After Army veteran Dave Herne, who served in the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, raised £1,800 over a 12-month period, memorial benches were recently installed at Morpeth Railway Station and the piazza area of Sanderson Arcade.

About £600 of this total was donated by veterans in a collection on Remembrance Sunday in 2015 and the rest of the money came from cash donations and through a Justgiving page online.

Mr Herne said: “As an ex-serving soldier, I thought raising money for the benches was the least I could do as a way of remembering the fallen from the town.

“Morpeth Railway Station was chosen because in the First World War, soldiers from the area got a train from the station to start their journey to the battlefields.

“Northern Rail was fully supportive of this from the word go and Sanderson Arcade immediately agreed to accommodate the town-centre seat when an agreement could not be reached to put it in the Market Place.

“I’ve had quite a few comments from members of the public saying how nice it is that these memorial benches are in place and they look fantastic.

“I’m very grateful to all those who donated.”

Following discussions with Morpeth Town Council and Northumberland County Council, Mr Herne asked the town council if one of the seats could be placed at a spot in front of Hays Travel in the Market Place.

Although members of its property and asset management committee praised him for successfully collecting the required money for two benches, the majority agreed with clerk Tracey Bell’s assessment that the requested location was not suitable.

The reasons given included the bench in that location would block the only natural gap for going in and out in that part of the market on market days and this gap is used to connect equipment to the electricity point when music events are held in the Market Place.

County councillor for Morpeth North, David Bawn, said: “The benches are an eye-catching and practical daily reminder of the sacrifice of those who have given their lives in war for our freedom.

“The thanks of the town is due to the veterans and all those who contributed to this heartfelt memorial.”

Dedication services for the seats will take place on Saturday, January 28 – 10.30am at Morpeth Railway Station and 11am at Sanderson Arcade.