Thursday, 11 November 2010

Cardigan Will Remember Them

I stood, as always at 11am this morning at Cardigan's Cenotaph, in memory of the those that have given their lives for mine.

I am a very enthusiastic member of the Royal British Legion. I'm a paid-up member and have been selling poppies both last year and this, to help raise funds for their poppy appeal.

Cardigan Remembers
Cardigan does Remembrance Week particularly well I feel.

We have a brief ceremony at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month each year at the Cenotaph. Today, despite the blustery conditions, I joined fellow Town Council colleagues and the Mayor Cllr Mair Morris, as well as pupils from the primary and secondary schools for that ceremony.

Then this coming Sunday, we shall have the main Remembrance Sunday service. Again, Cardigan does it well. Ours is an open-air ceremony. It does leave us open to the elements but it makes it feel more real than one which is cossetted by four walls.

This coming Sunday, we shall as a Town Council, march from the Guildhall to the Cenotaph and will be welcomed by a good sized crowd as we lead a full service in memory of the fallen and those who have fought in battle.

Remembering Lance Sgt Dave Greenhalgh
I have a much greater respect and understanding for our local traditions of remembrance after my Mayoral year last year.

Having played a part in the ceremony now for 6 years, suddenly, it was little old me that was leading the procession and the town in remembrance both on the 11th and on the Sunday last November as the Mayor of Cardigan (and not forgetting Anzac Day in April). It was a great responsibility to lay that first wreath and incredibly humbling.

It all became a lot more personal this February when the town and locality was shocked to hear of the death of local boy Dave Greenhalgh in Afghanistan. His family ran the Castle Cafe in town and he was a well known and popular local character. I did not know him personally but I count his brother Steve as a good friend and I know his father and step-mother well also.

Dave was flown back to Wootten Bassett and a mini-bus of friends and family went down to welcome him home. I felt a responsibility to attend on behalf of the town and to show my solidarity with those who were making the trip.

It was a wet, miserbale day and very very emotional. Seeing not just Dave but also another half a dozen return increased the emotion. All these different families and communities of friends had descended on this small, sleepy town on this one day. It was a raw experience and there's nothing more heart-breaking than witnessing grown men cry - many of whom did on that day.

We also suffered the injury to another of our own, Private Stephen Owen. He suffered serious injuries only a week after Dave was killed on active service.

It was a double blow to Cardigan, but thankfully for Stephen and his family, he survived.

An Act of Remembrance - Selling Poppies
So this year, we have even more reason to remember in Cardigan than normal.

That's why I've re-doubled my personal efforts to sell more poppies than I sold last year. It's a cathartic, becalming experience. Just standing there, watching the world go by and talking to the many who stop to chat and buy a poppy is great. In fact, I've not long got back in from selling poppies this afternoon at Tescos.

As I sell poppies this year and stand in memory of those who have gone before, I particularly remember the additional lives that have been touched by war over the past 12 months. For us here in Cardigan, that particularly means the family and friends of Private Stephen Owen.

Above all, I particularly remember Sgt Dave Greenhalgh.

We will remember them - Cardigan always does.

No comments:

Post a Comment