Remembrance Sunday 2016: Stevenage, Hitchin, Letchworth and Baldock pay their respects to the fallen

PUBLISHED: 15:52 14 November 2016 | UPDATED: 18:19 14 November 2016

Baldock Royal British Legion standard bearer Al Hayhurst on Remembrance Sunday. Photo: Alan Millard

Baldock Royal British Legion standard bearer Al Hayhurst on Remembrance Sunday. Photo: Alan Millard

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Crowds were out in force at war memorials across Stevenage and North Herts yesterday to remember the fallen on Remembrance Sunday.

Poppies and remembrance have a particular poignancy this year – the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme in 1916.

Wreaths were laid by veterans, MPs, civic dignitaries, the emergency services and others at war memorials in towns and villages across North Herts.

In Stevenage, there was a good turn out of veterans from the town’s RBL branch, Scouts, Guides and town residents – backed by the Sea Cadets band and the Harpenden Pipe Band.

They paraded along Primett Road and up to the war memorial in the Old Town before some 70 wreaths were laid by dignitaries including the town’s MP Stephen McPartland.

There was also an afternoon parade through Hitchin town centre, culminating with a service at the town’s war memorial.

It followed an Armistice Day memorial service on Friday which saw the biggest attendance in more than a decade with hundreds of people crowding into the area around Halsey’s and Churchyard. There was also representation from the younger generation as Hitchin Scouts and the Sea Cadets turned out in force too.

The Last Post was impeccably observed as veterans, representatives from the town’s British Legion branch and bystanders stood in silence under a piercing blue sky on a chilly morning.

Dignitaries at Letchworth’s service – attended by an estimated 1,000 people – included Councillor John Lloyd, chairman of North Herts District Council.

Leading prayers during the service, Rev Paul Bennett of St Michael’s Church – himself a veteran of the Royal Navy – said: “We remember with thanksgiving those who have made the supreme sacrifice for us in time of war.

“We offer this act of remembrance and commitment. By your grace, enable us this day to dedicate ourselves anew to the cause of justice, freedom and peace. Give us the wisdom and strength to build a better world.”

Nigel Kenworthy, vice-chairman of the RBL’s Letchworth branch, told the Comet: “I took over running of it this year so our chairman Joan Ellis could lay a wreath, and I think it went very well. I was proud.

“On behalf of the Royal British Legion of Letchworth I’d like to thank all those who took part in the service and made it such a special occasion.”

As many as 600 people are thought to have attended the service in Baldock, where the Queen was represented by the Lord Lieutenant of Hertfordshire Lady Verulam, with North Herts District Council vice-chairman Councillor Alan Millard among the other leading citizens.

“On parade were members of 254 Medical Regiment – many wearing campaign medals from a variety of war zones – veterans, local authorities and youth organisations and town organisations,” said Baldock Poppy Appeal organiser Paul Middleton.

Tim Litchfield, head of the town’s Knights Templar School, led a contingent of students who read out the names of the fallen, with musicians ably backing the hymn and national anthem.

North Herts Road Runners marked the day by running to the Hitchin and Letchworth war memorials.

For more about Remembrance Sunday or to donate to the Poppy Appeal, see britishlegion.org.uk.

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