The lights go out as people across the Vale remember them

The lights go out as people across the Vale remember them

Evesham commemorated the beginning of the First World War on Monday night.

Members of the Royal British Legion take a moment to remember the fallen during Evesham's Lights Out commemoration service on Monday evening.

Lights Out was marked at Wychavon District Council.

Photo by Andrew Spurr.

Knitted Poppys have been placed around Evesham in memory of the beginning of the First World War.

Knitted Poppys have been placed around Evesham in memory of the beginning of the First World War.

Knitted Poppys have been placed around Evesham in memory of the beginning of the First World War.

First published in News by

THE lights went out across the Vale as hundreds of people lit candles in sombre commemoration of those who gave up their lives fighting for their country during the First World War.

People marked the centenary of the beginning of war by descending into darkness and lighting a single candle between 10pm and 11pm on Monday night.

Public vigils were held across the Vale, including at Abbey Park in Evesham, while thousands more showed their respects by taking part in the 'Lights Out' initiative at home.

Earlier on Monday, people gathered in Pershore to remember the fallen.

The Royal British Legion held a Commemorative Parade at 1.30pm in front of a crowd of onlookers including the Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Worcestershire, David William-Thomas.

The names of the 101 men from the town who fell during the conflict were read out while Pershore High School student Bethany Ireland, 14, read out a poem of remembrance she had penned for the occasion.

Reverend Mark Jennings, the RBL padre, led the service.

He said: "We gather here today, standing together in solemn assembly, to mark the anniversary of British involvement in the cataclysmic conflict often referred to as the Great War.

"We will soon hear the names read from Pershore’s own Roll of Honour, listening for names and surnames which are still signed and heard in and around our town, a clue, I’m sure, to the family connections which abide, names to be read and remembered, heard and honoured; and which by so doing will bring the events of 1914-1918 close to home – and with it the enormity, the reality of the sacrifices so many of our townsfolk were forced to endure in the First World War."

The names on the Pershore Roll of Honour were also read out before Alice Bull, aged 17, played the Last Post and two minutes silence was observed.

The RBL's flag was then raised on the town's central flag pole, which will fly until the end of the month to serve as a reminder of the sacrifices that took place a century ago.

Later, as darkness fell, almost 200 people gathered together for the Lights Out commemoration held in Evesham's Abbey Park.

A series of readings took place, given by county councillor John Smith, Wychavon District Council chairman Cllr Lynn Duffy and town councillor Robert Raphael and, after the Last Post was played, participants lit candles.

At the chimes of 10pm the war memorial was illuminated in red, white and blue, arranged by Jenny Davis of Wychavon District Council and the members of the RBL processed up to the War Memorial to pay their respects.

After they fell out, a line of candlelight followed as people climbed the bank to plant their candles in the soil surrounding the memorial.

Alan Booth, chairman of the Royal British Legion Evesham branch, said he found the event very emotional.

"It was absolutely brilliant," he said. "An amazing night. We had a lot of positive support last night. I think we hit the right note.

"All the readings were very significant. It was emotional. The most emotional bit came right at the end when the legion went up to pay their respects without the crowds and then all the candles lit up."

Evesham Mayor Charlie Homer added: "I was really moving, very good and very fitting."

During the night he read an account of a battle in which one Evesham man, 2nd Lieutenant Shedden Jones, lost his life in 1916.

"The guy was 22," he said. "He was commanding people to go into no man's land. He was from Evesham and it took his life."

Jenny Davis, arts development officer at Wychavon, added: "We were so pleased to see so many people taking part in Lights Out, not just in their own homes, but also at the commemorative event in Evesham. It’s important that we never forget those who were lost."

Knitted poppies also appeared around Evesham on Tuesday to commemorate the centenary.

Some of the poppies, which can be found in the Market Square, High Street and Bridge Street, have already been dedicated to an individual and everyone is invited to do the same. Poppies are located in the market square, High Street and Bridge Street.

Other events took place in nearby villages to commemorate the fallen.

Charlton honoured those from the village who had died during the Great War by holding an event called Charlton Remembers.

There was an exhibition of a range of World War 1 artefacts from helmets, both British and German, shells and mortar casings, wire cutters, picks and shovels, bayonets and rifles, as well as medals and dead man's pennies, the bronze memorial plaques sent to the next of kin of those who had died.

Julian Hawley of Charlton, an enthusiastic amateur World War 1 historian, prepared a very interesting talk about each man listed on the village War Memorial.

In Church Lench more than 100 items of memorabilia brought scores of people to Church Lench Village Hall for the World War One Exhibition, which was opened by Major Peter Hodgkinson.

Mr Hodgkinson was born just before the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919 and served in the Royal Artillery in World War 2. He said: "The beginning of these wars is, of course, a matter of historical record, but I suggest only their ending should be one of celebration."

Exhibits ranged from a Vickers machine gun to delicate lace handkerchiefs sent by soldiers in France to their wives and girlfriends at home.

Dave Burns, co-ordinator of the exhibition, said: "It's important that this is not lost. We are making a website so that the exhibition and the memories will live on."

A selection of items from the exhibition can be seen again in November at Rous Lench Village Hall where a World War 1 Revue will be staged.

Anyone that would like to get involved should email Darin McLean at darin@chafystower.com.

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