FALLEN servicemen and women who made Tunbridge Wells and Tonbridge proud will be remembered this weekend.
The Royal British Legion has encouraged everyone to attend parades and wreath-laying services around both towns this coming Remembrance Sunday [November 12].
Large crowds are expected to gather for the events to honour soldiers, sailors and aircrews who died in the First and Second World Wars and all the conflicts since then.
This will follow Saturday’s Armistice Day, when a two-minute silence will be observed nationally to mark the end of fighting in the First World War.
One hundred years after key battles were fought in the Great War, Tunbridge Wells Town Hall and the lawn at Tonbridge Castle are currently decorated with thousands of poppies knitted by members of the public.
At the castle there is also a sculpture, created jointly by pupils at Tonbridge’s Hillview School for Girls and local artist Guy Portelli, honouring the role of women in wartime through three statues decorated with poppies.
These installations tie in with events on Remembrance Sunday, which begin at 10.45am in Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells, with a further afternoon ceremony in Tunbridge Wells at 2pm [see full details right]. Both morning events will feature a parade, hymns, talks and the laying of wreaths.
David Wakefield, President of the Tunbridge Wells Royal British Legion, said: “We would like as many people as possible to come and it is always very well attended.
“It is a chance to stand together as a society.” Mr Wakefield, who served as lieutenant in the Royal Sussex Regiment from 1950 to 1952 and was involved in the Suez Canal conflict, has been collecting around town for his charity’s annual Poppy Appeal.
He said: “We raise £60,000 a year through the Poppy Appeal, which goes towards helping former servicemen.
“The appeal is needed as much as ever as people are coming out from the forces and are all at sea. “The public have responded with great kindness and generosity.”
Tunbridge Wells Mayor Julia Soyke, who will play a role in leading proceedings, said:
“Although first-hand memories of the two world wars are receding, I think it is vital we
continue to remember and honour those who lost their lives or suffered terrible injuries.
“Our Armed Forces and the demands on these services are as important now as they
have always been.”
Tonbridge & Malling Mayor Roger Dalton said: “To be part of these worthy occasions as
Mayor really is a great honour.
“It’s so important that those who lost their lives at war are not forgotten, and I hope the
people of Tonbridge and Malling will join me in paying tribute to them.”
WHERE AND WHEN LOCAL REMEMBRANCE SUNDAY SERVICES ARE TAKING PLACE
From 10.45am marchers, including groups from schools, Scouts and the armed forces,
will make their way from the Town Hall to the War Memorial. The Mayor’s Chaplain,
Reverend Stephen Hills, will lead a service with hymns and prayers for expected crowds of members of the public alongside local dignitaries.
Also at 10.45am Mayor Roger Dalton will lead a wreath-laying service in the Memorial
Gardens in Bradford Street from 10.45am, which will be followed by a parade from there
to Tonbridge Castle.
At 2pm Deputy Mayor Len Horwood will attend Tunbridge Wells Cemetery in Hawkenbury
to lay wreaths at the two Cross of Sacrifice memorials. After this, Jennifer Watts of the
Royal British Legion will give a talk at the cemetery’s chapel on Passchendaele: Third Ypres.
A parade will begin at Pennington Grounds from 8.30am which will be followed by a march to the War Memorial from 9am.
Starting at a slightly earlier 9.30am, the service will begin at St Andrew’s Church and will
be followed by a parade to the war memorial.
From 10.30am there will be a service on the Vine.
A parade and march will begin from 2pm with wreaths to be laid in a service of remembrance from 2.30pm at the War Memorial.