How we commemorated Remembrance Sunday with scaled-back services

Even in uncertain times, our communities found fitting ways to mark Remembrance Sunday.

By observing significantly scaled-back services, people were still able to pay tribute to those who lost their lives in the world wars and later conflicts.

Local authorities and faith leaders were still able to organise outdoor services at public war memorials or cenotaphs, with all reasonable measures taken to limit any risk of coronavirus transmission.

In Ipswich, the Last Post was sounded by a bugler facing away from the small gathered numbers, who later listened to, but did not sing the national anthem.

Representatives of the town’s Jewish community, Ipswich and Suffolk Muslim Council, and Ipswich Faith and Community Forum spoke during the service, led by Archdeacon Revd Rhiannon King, at Christchurch Park on Sunday morning.

No crowds gathered and no veterans marched, but 13 wreaths were laid by local representatives including MPs Tom Hunt and Dan Poulter, Ipswich Borough Council leader David Ellesmere, mayor Jan Parry and Suffolk County Council’s Graham Newman.

Wreaths were also laid by former Private Secretary to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, and Lorraine McClure, whose 19-year-old son, Aaron, was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan while serving with the Royal Anglian Regiment in 2007.

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Remembrance Sunday event organisers adapted quickly to new lockdown restrictions, with many councils and Royal British Legion branches setting up live online streams for people to honour the fallen from home.

In Bury St Edmunds, Dr Mike Harrison, the Bishop of Dunwich, joined the Very Revd Joe Hawes, Dean of St Edmundsbury Cathedral, for a service at the Angel Hill war memorial.

RAF Honington Station Commander, Group Captain Matt Radnall took part in the small ceremony, which also included bugler Chris Beard, of the RAF Honington Voluntary Band, playing the Last Post.

Group Captain Radnall said: “Despite the unique challenges we face this year that we mean we are not able to observe Remembrance day as we would wish, it is nevertheless right that we should each find time to reflect on the sacrifice of those that have gone before us.”

In Colchester, mayor Robert Davidson hosted a private service with Colchester Garrison Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Jim McManus at Merville Barracks.

Attendees included the Lord-Lieutenant of Essex, Jennifer Tolhurst, chairman of Essex County Council, John Jowers, and Fred Woolhouse, president of the Colchester branch of The Royal British Legion.

Mr Davidson, said: “Remembrance Day is a hugely significant part of our civic calendar and one I hope people will have found time to observe in their own special way today – apart but together – in quiet tribute to all those who volunteered, served, fought, or made the ultimate sacrifice to protect and secure our freedom.

Lieutenant Colonel McManus added: “The service was a small, but appropriate and poignant occasion to pay tribute to the fallen. While coronavirus has meant that we were not able to join with the public to mark Remembrance as we have done in years past, the shared silence that we have observed meant we paid our respects together, even if we were apart.”

After observing the national two-minute silence, marked out by gunfire from 7th Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery, wreathes were laid at a drumhead altar set up on the barracks’ parade square.

Meanwhile, members of the public also gathered at the war memorial in front of Colchester Castle, where 17 wreaths were laid.

Members of 5th Woodbridge Sea Scouts would normally turn out in force for the Remembrance Day parade in their town.

Instead beavers, cubs, scouts and explorers had been busy painting poppies on stones to be placed on the war memorial on Market Hill.

The names of people that have served in the armed forces, or from the list of those on the memorial, were written on the back of each stone.

The idea was found by the group’s scout leader Nicola Tooke and taken up by all sections of the group.

She said: “With our links to the Royal Navy we felt it was important to encourage members of the group to mark Remembrance Day and show our support despite the usual parade being cancelled due to Covid restrictions.”

Barrie Hayter, group scout leader, said: “The remembrance parade is one of the most important events in our calendar. We usually have a great turnout, and the sections all look amazing in their uniforms.

“The stones are a way for our members to reflect on the meaning of the day and show their appreciation.”

In Felixstowe, a small civic party laid wreaths at the war memorial, while in Steeple Bumpstead, near Haverhill, parish councillor Ian Westrope read names of the local fallen from the upstairs window of the historic Moot Hall.

Meanwhile, members of Boxted Methodist Silver Band played the Last Post and Reveille at three Remembrance services in three villages near Colchester.

Anne Ruddock played at St Peter’s Church, Boxted, while Victoria Steinitz played at All Saints Church, Great Horkesley, and Jill Ivey played at St Lawrence Church, Rowhedge.

A poppy wreath from the band was laid at the at Boxted Church war memorial by vice-president Mark Kettle.

About 100 students paid their respects during a socially distanced remembrance parade at Suffolk Rural college (formerly Otley College) ahead of national commemorations.

All those studying on uniformed public services diploma courses at Suffolk New College were involved in event.

Traditionally, respects are paid at the main campus in Ipswich, but college leaders took the decision to host an open-air event with Suffolk Rural college.

Martin Memory, former member of the Royal Navy and curriculum co-ordinator for public services, said: “We wanted to honour everyone who is currently working in the armed and uniformed services, as well as all those who have served their country in the past.

“Many of our students have family members who are working or who have worked in the forces and the majority of our learners will end up serving – so naturally this ceremony is given extra resonance because of this.”

Five of Natasha Lamb’s family are former or current service personnel.

The 18-year-old, from Ipswich, said: “It was poignant to able to reflect on those who I knew that have died.”

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