Vicar's plea over Remebrance Day row

A VICAR has appealed for unity in a Suffolk coastal town after angry residents threatened to boycott next month's Remembrance Day commemorations.Some householders, still seething after changes to last year's services, are now disappointed about the plans for Remembrance Day on Sunday November 12.

By Richard Smith

A VICAR has appealed for unity in a Suffolk coastal town after angry residents threatened to boycott next month's Remembrance Day commemorations.

Some householders, still seething after changes to last year's services, are now disappointed about the plans for Remembrance Day on Sunday November 12.

This is the third alteration in three years but Nigel Hartley, vicar of Aldeburgh parish church, said: ''The idea is to make it possible for everybody in the town to be united and to come together, both at the service in the church for Remembrance Sunday and at the town's war memorial.


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''The timings were different last year. We started our service at 10.45am and we have moved it an hour earlier this year. That has been agreed with the town council and I think both groups have had to compromise.''

He emphasised that his church was responsible for a church service while the town council was responsible for activities away from the church. Rev Hartley will lead services at the church and the war memorial.

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Lindsay Lee, town council clerk, said: ''Because of the public response last year the town council has negotiated with the church council that there will be a service at the memorial at 11am, because last year it was not and there were a lot of disgruntled people. The town council has insisted that the people of Aldeburgh will be listened to.''

But there is a rift within the town with a group of residents believing that the church has tried to take control of a secular event.

A member of the Aldeburgh branch of the Royal British Legion said: ''People like ourselves do not know exactly what is going on.

''There has been a stand-off for some months and nobody had done anything because the vicar wanted to change the format of the service and Remembrance Day.”

He claimed: ''It is not the preserve of the Church of England, it is for everybody of all denominations to go and remember the dead.''

A staunch supporter of the lifeboat station, who declined to be named, said: ''Last year the routine, which we had done since the year dot, was changed. But if it ain't broke, why try and fix it?

''This year the vicar is starting the service earlier than we would normally do and some people will not want to get out of bed for it.

''This means that by 11.15am everything will be finished, it will become fragmented.''

This year there will be a service in the parish church at 9.40am and at 10.40am there will be a procession to the war memorial in time for a silence at 11am.

Traditionally, a service was held at the war memorial and then there was a parade to the church and a service. After the service finished there was a parade to the Moot Hall.

There was a huge outcry last year about the proceedings. In the Aldeburgh Gazette newsletter it was stated that the act of remembrance at the war memorial was a disgrace to the town and that changes had to be made to avoid a ''similar shameful and insulting debacle'' this year.

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