Remembrance Sunday set to be very different to previous years

Rev David Wright at St Peter’s, Wolverhampton

In a normal year, thousands of people would line streets across the region on Sunday to watch parades and pay tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country during conflict.

Acts of remembrance would also take place at war memorials, churches and other venues across towns and cities, with the laying of wreaths and the observance of a two minute silence as part of the event.

This year, the on-going coronavirus pandemic has forced councils across the region to change their plans, with events and parades either cancelled or changed to follow coronavirus guidance.

In Dudley, there would traditionally be a parade of servicemen and women, along with community groups, taking to the streets, before finishing in Ednam Road by the cenotaph.

Rose Cook-Monk lays a wreath in Dudley

This year, the civic Remembrance Day service will take place in a virtual setting, with residents being able to follow the service via the Dudley Borough Facebook page. Residents will also be invited to remember at home this year and mark the commemoration with a two-minute silence on their doorstep at 11am.

Councillor David Stanley, Mayor of Dudley, said the day spoke about the day and how although people couldn’t come together, it wouldn’t stop the spirit of remembrance.

He said: “Sadly, we cannot come together as one this year but that doesn’t mean that we can’t remember in our own way. The act of remembrance is a very personal thing and there are many ways to remember those who we are thankful for and those we have lost.”

In Sandwell, remembrance services across the region have been forced to be cancelled due to coronavirus.

Last year, events and parades took place in West Bromwich, Tipton, Rowley Regis, Wednesbury, Oldbury, Smethwick and Great Barr. This year, Mayor of Sandwell Councillor Ann Jaron is urging residents to put poppies in their front windows as a mark of respect.

She said: “I ask you to observe the two minutes silence together, by your radio, your TV or on your doorstep. I ask you to wear your poppy with pride and maybe even put up pictures of poppies next to the rainbows in your front windows This year, unfortunately, we are unable to remember the fallen in the same way but that does not mean our respect has waned.

It must not.”

In Staffordshire, the traditional parades which would normally take place in towns such as Stafford, Stone and Eccleshall have been cancelled. The Mayor of Stafford Borough, Councillor Gareth Jones laid wreaths at the Borough War Memorial, County War Memorial and Commonwealth War Graves at the Eccleshall Road Cemetery in Stafford on Monday. This took place after a planned streamed remembrance service in the town was cancelled following the announcement of a second lockdown.

The National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas will tomorrow be holding a private service between 10am and 11am at the Armed Forces memorial, which will be available to watch on the National Memorial Arboretum Facebook page.

Walsall’s commemoration events will be different this year to last year, where a full parade passed through the town centre and services were held in Walsall town centre, Brownhills, Aldridge, Willenhall, Short Heath and other areas.

The Mayor of Walsall, Councillor Paul Bott, will lay a wreath in a simple ceremony instead.

The Great War Memorial in Sutton Coldfield

The traditional service in Wolverhampton will still take place, although with a significantly scaled back event to previous years, where a parade would lead onto a service at the Cenotaph at St Peter’s Square.

Instead, the council will live stream a service from the cenotaph to enable the thousands of people who normally gather in the city centre to watch the proceedings and remember the fallen.

A very small number of invited guests will attend the Cenotaph service. Mayor of Wolverhampton, Councillor Claire Darke, said the decision was not an easy one, but was necessary in the circumstances.

She said: “As a city, we will mark Remembrance Sunday and remember the fallen, but we will do it differently this year.

“I know people will understand this, nobody will be expecting the usual large public service and parade in the midst of a pandemic.

“This is important as many of the people who usually attend are elderly and thus more vulnerable to Covid-19.

“We did not want to cancel the service entirely, so we’ve agreed to scale things back and live stream the service on social media.”

Marjorie Webb with staff and the display at Parklands Court

Residents and staff at a Black Country nursing home have created a vivid artwork as an act of remembrance.

The artwork at Parklands Court Nursing Home in Bloxwich covers the whole front of the building with poppies painted by residents, as well as a poppy made from stones also painted by residents.

Senior activity coordinator Pat Pruden said the original idea for the display came after she had accompanied several residents to a remembrance service in 2018, and had grown in size since.

She said: “Last year, it just covered the gate, but it’s grown massively since then as we’ve had lots of residents getting involved with painting stones and poppies for the display.

“It’s been a real boost to all the residents as they’re not going to be able to go to any services this year due to Covid, so it’s just a truly lovely thing to see.”

The display includes poppies painted on cut sheets of linoleum, as well as soldiers created out of black plastic sheeting.

Mrs Pruden said the community response had been fantastic and the residents had got closer as a result.

She said: “We’ve had so many messages saying how nice it looks, and more than 50,000 views and 1,000 shares of it on my own Facebook page. It’s been great to see the residents come together and talk about their experiences during the war and share stories about life in service and at home, which they’ve all really enjoyed.

“We’re already thinking about next year and the chance to go bigger and better than this year.”

MP Marco Longhi will travel through Dudley in the truck putting up giant poppies

A Black Country MP has enlisted some serious hardware to aid his mission to install large poppies across Dudley.

Dudley North MP Marco Longhi will today be driving through his constituency in a 10.5-ton Second World War truck, stopping off along the way to attach poppies to lampposts and raise funds for the legion.

He said: “Despite the lockdown I wanted to ensure that our military and civilian servicemen and women are remembered.

We also plan to visit some local care homes so those that are constrained to stay inside can feel part of the commemoration. Due to the lockdown it will be a very different event this year, but I encourage residents to lookout of their windows as we pass by with the truck.”

The truck, which is owned by Richard Price and his father Mick, is a Scammell Pioneer recovery tractor from 1943, which was used to transport tanks during the conflict. Its planned route starts at Ednam Road at 12pm, before visiting the Barchester-Broadway Halls care home on The Broadway, Nith Place, Salop Street, Highland Road, Burton Road, Kent Street, Clarence Street, Dudley Road, Sedgley Bullring and Tipton Road.

Churches and other groups have been getting ready to mark Remembrance Day in new ways.

While a large number of services have had to be cancelled due to lockdown restrictions, some have utilised technology to help bring people together in a virtual setting in remembrance.

St Peter’s Church in Wolverhampton has been one of the leaders for online services during the pandemic.

After the wreath laying ceremony has been completed at the cenotaph on St Peters Square on Sunday, the church will hold a closed remembrance service, which will be broadcast on the church’s Facebook page.

The Pan-African Ahmadiyya Muslim Association (PAAMA) UK was hosting an online memorial service yesterday to honour all those who have fought for Britain and the Commonwealth. The virtual service featured speakers from the Royal British Legion and Royal Air Force, as well as a virtual act of remembrance with prayers and a rendition of the last post.

The St John’s Church Preservation Group will be holding a different type of event at the church in Kates Hill in Dudley. In place of the traditional service with members of the Royal British Legion, the group will light 250 candles to remember the fallen servicemen and women who came from Dudley.

They will also allow people to come in and pay their respects at the front of the church, as well as invite them to lay a poppy or wreath at the entrance gates, which are a war memorial.

Other traditional services have had to change, such as the annual service of remembrance at RAF Cosford, which has been cancelled due to lockdown restrictions.

The RAF museum will, instead, share a virtual remembrance service on its website and social media on November 11 at 11am.

A city’s annual service of remembrance will take to a virtual setting for the first time.

Birmingham’s annual Remembrance Sunday service will be live-streamed from St Philip’s Cathedral due to the coronavirus pandemic and national lockdown.

While there will be no public event in the city centre, people looking to remember the fallen will be able to watch by visiting the cathedral’s website on Sunday at 10.55am.

Due to the national lockdown, the Cathedral service will take place without a congregation, but a wreath will be laid by the clergy on behalf of the people and the city of Birmingham.

People are encouraged to carry out their own acts of remembrance, such as playing the Last Post, reading a poem, paying tribute to relatives who served, and to share online using the hashtag for posts #BhamRemembers.

The Service of Remembrance will be available to watch on the Cathedral’s website at birminghamcathedral.com/remembrance

Large and small brightly coloured pictures of poppies created by children at a Kidderminster nursery marked their Remembrance Day celebrations.

Every child who attends Little Trinity Nursery took part creating their own, unique poppy masterpiece.

Some of the finished poppy pictures were made into a display for the nursery window.

Nursery manager Gaynor Carter said: “At Little Trinity we believe it’s important that all children learn about a wide range of topics and subjects.

Earlier this year we looked at people working in the military, protecting our country and keeping us safe, extremely important as one of our children has a father in the military who was away on service over the summer.

“Age was irrelevant as every child was able to demonstrate and use their individual creative skills to make their poppies, talking about colours and materials as they painted and collaged their artwork.

They also discussed how lives and families can very often be different, which created opportunities to question and discuss communities and the world.”

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