Lancashire set to remember the fallen with virtual Remembrance Sunday services
Lancashire is rising to the challenge of finding new ways to commemorate Armistice Day in a Covid-secure way
"We must remember".
That is the call from local Royal British Legion volunteers as Lancashire gears up to mark Remembrance Day in a very different way.
Due to coronavirus restrictions, the much-anticipated and well-attended parades in towns, villages and cities across the county will not be happening, and sales for the Poppy Appeal have been muted.
But members of local branches and council chiefs are keen to make sure that the event does not go unmarked.
Services have been pre-recorded ready to be live-streamed on council websites and social media platforms, online donations are being pushed, and people are being encouraged to stand for a two-minute silence on their door step on Remembrance Sunday, which this year falls on November 8.
As well as new ways to mark Remembrance Day, a limited supply of traditional poppies and pin badges are available at some shops, and wreaths are available on request.
"It's been very low-key this year", said Michael Turner, chairman of the Lostock Hall branch of the Royal British Legion.
"We've only got a limited supply of poppies, 2020 and VE Day pin badges, and while we want them in as many shops as possible, we've had to concentrate on places where there is high footfall.
"We can't do face to face collections in supermarkets like we'd normally do, and a lot of our helpers are in the vulnerable age group, so we can't really ask them to go out and collect.
"People are being encouraged to donate online instead, but that money goes centrally. It doesn't show up as being raised by a local branch, and there has always been a bit of health competition between us over that.
"The donations are going to be much lower this year. Usually in the Lostock Hall and district area, we get around £15,000 at Sainsbury's in Bamber Bridge, £6-8,000 at Booths in Longton and £6-8,000 at Waitrose. But that's not happening this year, so already that's more than £30,000 gone."
He added: "As for the parades, it's going to be very different. Of course we understand that they can't go ahead, but it doesn't make it any less sad. We won't be able to remember them (the war dead) in the same way.
"We focus on this time of year, it's a very special time, but for the first time in 100 years there won't be a public parade in Whitehall, and for the first time in 80 or 90 years there won't be one in Lostock Hall.
"It's the same at any war memorial anywhere in the country, and we have to reflect on that. We have to reinvigorate it next year.
"This won't be the end of parades and Remembrance, no way. There are too many people passionate about it. And next year is the Legion's centenary, so a lot of energy will go into that.
"We do also still have donation boxes in schools and the children are learning what they're for, so there is a small chink of light.
"We must remember, it's so important."
People are still able to pay their respects at war memorials, so long as social distancing is abided by, and people should only visit war memorials with people from their own households.
Wreaths are available from Mr Turner by calling 078842 53848.
What is happening in your area?
South Ribble Borough Council has pre-recorded an online remembrance service set to be published to Facebook on the morning of November 8.
The service has been recorded at the war memorial in Church Road, Leyland, and will feature only a small number of dignitaries including the leader of the council, Councillor Paul Foster; the Mayor of South Ribble, Councillor Jane Bell; the Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Lancashire, Charles Hadcock; and Reverend David Whitehouse, the Vicar at St Andrew’s Church.
>>>Click here to watch the video from November 8
Councillor Paul Foster said: “We have taken this decision because it is clearly the right thing to do for the people of South Ribble and their safety.
“Coronavirus cases are rising rapidly, and it became apparent that a full Remembrance Sunday parade and service would clearly contravene Government guidance on large gatherings.
“That said, we all felt passionately about the delivery of an alternative – which is why we have pre-recorded a small remembrance service at the war memorial on Church Road in Leyland to be shared to the council’s Facebook page on Sunday 8 November.
“Despite everything that is going on in the world – and the uncertainty we all face – one thing we can be certain of is the incredible sacrifices, bravery and valour shown by the amazing service men and women fighting for this country.
“Remembrance Sunday 2020 should still be marked with unequivocal pride and admiration – and I am just glad that this authority has decided to proceed with this online remembrance service, which I hope the people of South Ribble will watch and reflect on during this important time of commemoration.”
Between 5pm and 8pm on Remembrance Sunday, the First World War memorial in Lostock Hall and the war memorial in the centre of Leyland will be lit up in red.
Chorley Council has also put plans in place to mark Remembrance Sunday digitally this year.
A video, which was filmed earlier in October at St Laurence's Church in Union Street, will be posted to the Chorley Council Facebook page on Sunday, November 8.
From the safety of their own homes, residents will be able to watch all the usual features of the service of remembrance – such as prayers, Bible readings, and the Last Post.
Covid-19 restrictions have rendered the usual parade and ceremony at the war memorial in Astley Park impractical – and the council is adamant that residents’ safety must come first at a time when coronavirus cases are rising and we all need to take steps to prevent its spread.
>>>The video will be available here
Councillor Alistair Bradley, leader of Chorley Council, said: “Throughout 2020, people across the country have been finding alternative ways to do things so that it is safer and remote or digital where possible, eradicating the risk of meeting up in person.
“Here at Chorley Council, we are no different and we value our residents’ safety above all else. It is our duty to do everything in our power to prevent the spread of this nasty disease and we must act responsibly with care and diligence.
“Nevertheless, we are committed to ensuring residents have the means to remember and reflect, come 8 November.
“That is why we have filmed a digital service of remembrance which we will share with residents on Remembrance Sunday for them to watch, just as they would always do, except this time it will be from the safety of their own homes.
“Remembrance Sunday is such an important occasion in the council calendar. I am pleased we have found an alternative way to mark it this year, despite everything that is going on, and I encourage residents to watch the Facebook video and take time to reflect on the atrocities of war and the incredible valour and bravery shown by our selfless service men and women, past and present.”
Wyre Council is encouraging residents to observe a doorstep two minute silence on Remembrance Sunday as well as screening a pre-recorded virtual remembrance service.
Councillor David Henderson, Leader of Wyre Council said: “This year we would like to encourage our residents to mark these occasions in a different way, to keep our community safe.
“On Remembrance Sunday the usual commemorative services will not be taking place in Wyre and we suggest that residents instead join us from their homes in a doorstep two minute silence at 11am.”
Residents are also encouraged to lay wreaths from November 1 to help spread out visitors to memorial sites
The Marine Hall in Fleetwood will also be lit red to honour the day.
Longridge Town Council has announced that there will not be a Remembrance Sunday parade this year, but a Service of Remembrance will be held at the War Memorial for invited guests only.
The Mayor of Longridge alongside the Deputy Mayor of Ribble Valley Borough Council will lay wreaths at the War Memorial on behalf of the Town and Ribble Valley Borough Council.
A spokesman for Longridge Town Council said: "Our priority as Longridge Town Council, is to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of our community alongside providing a respectful way in which the community can remember in these unpredictable and difficult times and the community are requested not to attend the War Memorial area under any circumstances before 1pm on November 8, 2020."
There will be a live streaming of the service available on the Your Longridge Facebook group and the hastag #LongridgeRemembers is being promoted on social media for people to show how they are commemorating.
Residents are also being invited to join together on the doorstop at 11am for a collective remembrance. This is similar to the NHS, VE 75 Day and VJ Day events from earlier in the year.
The Mayor of Garstang, Youth Mayor, and representatives of the Legion will informally lay wreaths at the war memorial on behalf of the town, during the course of the day.
Members of the public or other organisations may lay wreaths, but the Town Council request that social distancing is observed and that wreath laying takes place throughout the day and that people do not attend at the traditional time of 11am.
In Ribchester, member of public may stop and watch wreath-laying by the town war memorial on Sunday, November 8 at 12.15pm, but must observe social distancing rules.
Those laying wreaths will be restricted to those attending as part of their job/work such as councillors and faith leaders, those attending in a voluntary capacity on behalf of a recognised organisation, eg, Scout/Guide Associations, or the WI, members of the Armed Forces, and veterans of the Armed Forces or their representatives.
The organisers will take reasonable steps to record the details of those attending for Track and Trace purposes.
On Wednesday, November 11, there will not be a gathering at the war memorial. A two-minutes silence will be observed there by members of the War Memorial Trust only.
Lancashire's High Sheriff Catherine Penny will lay a wreath at Hurst Green war memorial on behalf of the voluntary sector and all who cannot attend Remembrance services in the county this year due to Covid-19 restrictions.
The wreath laying at the village cross near Longridge will follow an ecumenical service with invited guests at Hurst Green's Memorial Hall.
It is hoped that the service will be live streamed.
The High Sheriff said she had chosen to attend a local service because she is a parishioner at Hurst Green St John's church and her husband Andrew is the President of the Hurst Green Royal British Legion, adding: "It made sense to go there this year when we are not meant to travel far."
She said: "I am delighted to be able to attend to lay a wreath on behalf of all those who cannot attend a service themselves."
Her chaplain Canon Brian McConkey, Rector of Ribchester and vicar at Hurst Green, who will co-officiate at the service with local priest Fr Tim Curtis, reminded the public that this year they will not be able to attend. He said: "We want to encourage people to stay at home and remember. We will be doing it on your behalf."
A bugler from Stonyhurst College will be in attendance, local members of the Royal British Legion and representatives from those local organisations which usually lay a wreath at the memorial.
Penwortham Town Council has announced there will be an invite-only wreath-laying service at the war memorial on Penwortham Hill on November 11.
Anyone who wishes to lay a wreath at the site is asked to do so before November 11, and adhere to social distancing.
Preston Council are yet to announce their plans for Remembrance Sunday.
Make a donation to the Royal British Legion online at: https://www.britishlegion.org.uk/get-involved/ways-to-give/donate