Lest we forget

Morpeth Remembrance 2013
Morpeth Remembrance 2013

COMMUNITIES fell silent across Northumberland to pay tribute to those who have given their lives in service to their country.

Remembrance Sunday commemorations took place at the weekend in a solemn tribute to Armed Forces personnel who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in two world wars and more than 70 conflicts since.

In Morpeth there was a parade from the Town Hall to the war memorial by Mafeking Park.

It was led by Morpeth Pipe Band and included Mayor Joan Tebbutt, Freemen and Aldermen, town and county councillors, the Royal British Legion, veterans, and representatives of the Royal Navy, Army, RAF, Northumbria Police, Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service and the North East Ambulance Service.

Joining members of Morpeth RAFA club in the march was seven-year-old Oscar Clark, who was proudly wearing the medals of his great great grandfather Serjeant Major James Eunson DCM, who was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for Conspicuous Gallantry in 1917 while serving with the West Yorkshire regiment in the trenches of France. He was wounded four times and died in 1921 of gas injuries suffered in the war.

David Clark, Oscar’s father, said: “Morpeth veterans asked if Oscar would march with them as it was the highest ranking medal of Gallantry in the parade, second only to the Victoria Cross.

“I was most honoured given that they’ve jointly served thousands of years between them, seen friends killed in action and been awarded medals galore, but selflessly wanted to honour the memory of my great grandfather’s bravery 96 years on.”

At the war memorial there were prayers led by the Reverend Simon White, Last Post sounded by a bugler and a lament by a piper.

The service ended with the national anthem, sung by Rebecca Megwa, and the parade returned to the Town Hall, where the Mayor took the salute.

In Ponteland there was a parade from the leisure centre to the Memorial Hall, followed by a service led by The Reverend Peter Barham and Father Seamus O’Kane.

Deputy Lieutenant Bryony Gibson and MP Guy Opperman were in attendance, and local air and army cadets were involved in the tributes.

Wreaths were laid by a number of organisations, including the Rotary Club, Lions Club, Ponteland Memorial Hall, Senior Gentlemen’s Club, Ponteland Tennis and Bowling Clubs, Scouts, Cubs and Beavers, Guides and Brownies.

Shortly after the tragic death of Drummer Lee Rigby in May, a bouquet of flowers was left at the fountain in the middle of Stannington. This prompted the parish council to wonder if the fountain had been mistaken for a war memorial.

St Mary’s Church has a memorial plaque for those, from the parish, who lost their lives in the First World War. The authority then investigated the idea of placing such a plaque on the fountain, which had been restored by the late Lord Ridley to commemorate the millennium.

The result was a very poignant and thoughtful Remembrance Sunday service and the laying of wreaths within the church by Mr Pringle, on behalf of the Royal British Legion, and the parish council.

This was followed by a procession, led by the church choir and the local cub pack, to the fountain with its new memorial plaque. Wreaths were laid by Lord Ridley in his capacity as Vice Lord Lieutenant of the county, the cubs and other village groups.

On Armistice Day on Monday there were further tributes to mark the end of the First World War at the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month in 1918.

A bugler and standard bearers accompanied civic leaders outside Morpeth Town Hall as the town’s Deputy Mayor Nic Best called a two-minute silence.

At County Hall in Morpeth, county council staff, councillors and veterans joined representatives of the Royal British Legion, Royal Regiment of Fusiliers and RAF Boulmer.

Wreaths were laid and a two-minute silence was held.