A day we will never forget
It was a Remembrance Sunday like no other. A day of mixed emotions. Poignant and moving. A day we will NEVER forget.
A day to reflect and a day of thanksgiving for the many who bravely fought and paid the ultimate sacrifice serving their country during conflicts.
The day was always going to be special, falling as it did on the 100th anniversary of the end of World War One. It was special in many ways and a fitting tribute to the fallen. Well done Melton Mowbray, you did them proud!
It was obviously an occasion not to be missed and this was evident by the huge number of people lining the streets as the parade made its way from Chapel Street and through the town centre via Sherrard Street and Market Place.
About 350 people made up of serving members of the armed forces, veterans and members of the town branch of the Royal British Legion took part in the march, along with serving personnel with the Defence Animal Training Regiment, plus nine horses and six working dogs, firefighters, St John Ambulance first-aiders and young people from the Scouts, cubs, brownies and the 1279 (Melton Mowbray) Air Training Corps.
It is thought that up to nearly 800 people then packed into St Mary's Church for the Remembrance Sunday Service. Large screens were used this year to show images reflecting Melton wartime memories. Before the service bells rang out as they had done 100 years ago to mark Armistice Day.
St Mary's Church proved a beautiful setting once more for such a big occasion (last year the service was held at the Memorial Gardens due to refurbishment on the church) and the service began with the processional Hymn Praise my soul, the King of heaven.
The service was led by Melton Mowbray Team Rector, the Revd Kevin Ashby, assisted by Revd Canon Peter Moseling and, after a welcome, notices and introduction and opening prayers the Act of Remembrance took place, including The Last Post, The Silence and Reveille.
During the hymn Now thank we all our God the standards and wreaths were presented at the chancel steps and church wardens laid a wreath at the church war memorial.
Then followed the first reading, a moving letter read by Lena Shuttlewood, Democracy and Involvement Officer at Melton Borough Council, which was sent by her grandfather Harry Winters to his mother in Rutland Street, Melton Mowbray, after he was shot in the face while serving in France in 1918 when he was 19.
"Don’t worry about me I would sooner be a wounded hero in Blighty than a little soldier out there," he wrote. "I thank God for letting me come over here alive. I was lucky to get to Blighty. I don’t look pretty, they say I look about 14 as my cheek is swollen and I have got a nice black eye."
The second reading, from Ecclesiasticus, Chapter 44: verses 1-15, was given by Mayor of Melton Borough, Cllr Pru Chandler, before a stunning rendition of Malcolm Archer's anthem They Shall Grow Not Old by the brilliant St Mary's Church Choir under the leadership of musical director James Gutteridge.
The third reading, from John Chapter 15: verses 9-17, was given by David Wilson CBE, Deputy Lieutenant of Leicestershire, before The Sermon by the Revd Ashby and the fourth reading, Dreamers by Siegfried Sassoon, given by the Revd Canon Moseling.
During the hymn O valiant hearts who to your glory came a collection was taken to be divided equally between the Royal British Legion Poppy Fund and the church.
Prayers were followed by The Act of Commitment. During the hymn Hope for the world's despair the standards and wreaths were returned. After the National Anthem followed the recessional hymn O God our help in ages past.
After the service the parade re-formed in Burton Street and marched off into the Market Place, where the salute was taken by the Commanding Officer of the Defence Animal Training Regiment, Lieutenant Colonel Martyn Thompson, MBE and David Wilson CBE, Deputy Lieutenant of Leicestershire. It then continued down Leicester Street into the Memorial Gardens, where wreaths were laid by all the organisations taking part. A large crowd also attended this event.
Thanks were given by President of Melton Royal British Legion branch, Peter Roffey, OBE DL, who said it was pleasing to see so many, in particular young people, attending the event and the parade and church service.
*One of the popular animals to take part in the annual Remembrance Sunday Parade in Melton is Shire Horse Emily, who belongs to Helen Sumner from Stapleford. To find out more click here.
The day's tributes then continued at 5.30pm, again in St Mary's Church, with a moving and stunning performance of Karl Jenkins' "The Armed Man - A Mass For Peace" performed by the combined St Mary's Church Choir and Melton Mowbray Choral Society, led by musical director James Gutteridge.
While this was going on the large screen in church was used to show wartime images. Other special guests on the night were two working dogs from the Defence Animal Training Regiment along with their handlers (see picture below).
The large crowd attending then made its way to Play Close where the Revd Kevin Ashby led a short service of commemoration, including the hymn “O God Our Help in Ages Past” before some 600 names of local men killed in action in World War One were read out. Mayor of Melton, Pru Chandler, then read "Tribute to the Millions."
This was followed at 6.57pm by the Last Post played by Phil Hardy and a beacon was lit at 7pm. It was one of hundreds of beacons lit in communities across the UK in tribute to those who gave their lives in the Great War.
The bells of St Mary’s Parish Church then played Battle’s Over – Ringing Out for Peace at 7.05pm. Collections were made to be divided equally between The Royal Naval Association, The Royal Naval Benevolent Fund, The Army's National Charity and The Merchant Navy Association.
A fitting end to a fitting day of Remembrance.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning, We DID remember them!
*TO VIEW ALL OF PHIL BALDING'S PICTURES TAKEN ON SUNDAY CLICK HERE.
*TO VIEW PICTURES TAKEN ON SUNDAY BY STEWART CAMPBELL CLICK HERE.