MP joins mayor for Remembrance Sunday in Bishop's Stortford
Bishop’s Stortford honoured its war dead on Remembrance Sunday with a solemn, socially distanced ceremony in Castle Gardens.
Usually, the Causeway is thronged with crowds watching veterans, armed services personnel, cadets and youth groups march to the war memorial.
But in accordance with Government guidance to curb the spread of Covid-19, the town council and Royal British Legion limited attendance at Sunday's ceremony to 70 members of the public, picked by lottery, and representatives of the military took part in a static parade.
The event was live-streamed on YouTube for those unable to attend. Mayor Cllr Keith Warnell set the tone with his welcome address in one of his first official duties of a civic year disrupted by the pandemic.
He said: “For those here in person I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for abiding by the coronavirus rules we have implemented today to keep everyone safe. May I remind you that you must remain within your allocated space and tributes should be laid after the service.
“Unless you are exempt, please wear a face covering. In line with national guidance, today’s service will not include any collective singing or responses.”
Standard bearers taking part in the static parade began the ceremony with a general salute before the Rev Tim Weeks, chaplain to the Royal British Legion in Stortford and part of the Bishop's Stortford deanery team, welcomed the congregation in Castle Gardens and on the internet. He said the service was also a chance to remember the victims of “that other war, our fight against Covid-19”.
The hymn, O God, our help in ages past, was played by Bishop’s Stortford Town Band and sung by members of Herts and Soul Community Choir.
Rev Weeks then led the Act of Remembrance, and the president of the town’s Royal British Legion branch, John Robinson, read a verse from Laurence Binyon’s For the Fallen: “They shall grow not old as we that are left grow old. Age shall not weary them nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, We will remember them.”
Standards were dipped as a town band bugler played Last Post and a maroon fired on top of the Waytemore Castle mound signalled the start of two minutes' silence. After a second maroon signalled its end, Reveille was played.
Mr Robinson then read The Kohima Epitaph: “When you go home tell them of us and say, for your tomorrow we gave our today.”
As the choir sang Eternal Father, strong to save, community representatives led by the mayor laid 23 poppy wreaths around the memorial.
Those paying their respects included MP Julie Marson – attending her first Remembrance Day service in the town following her election to the Hertford and Stortford seat in last December’s General Election – former mayor Cllr Norma Symonds and six members of the public picked at random to represent military organisations including cadets; uniformed services; churches and places of worship; schools and children's groups; charities and voluntary organisations; and residents and businesses.
The mayor gave a reading from the Gospel of St John before joining Rev Weeks in the Act of Commitment, pledging service to God and neighbours.
The minister then recited the Lord’s Prayer before the choir sang I vow to thee, my country.
During the national anthem, God Save the Queen, standards were dipped once more and the ceremony concluded with the final blessing.
The war memorial was later adorned with the artwork of girls from the 7th Bishop's Stortford Guides who painted pebbles with poppies and the names of some of the fallen who are commemorated on the war memorial.
The service is available to view on YouTube at https://youtu.be/z9t7eyfh7iE.