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Executive Leader Cllr Brenda Warrington

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Councillor Brenda Warrington, Executive Leader of Tameside Council

Paying Our Respects and Staying Safe

Wednesday, 11 November 2020

Remembrance Sunday is one of the most poignant and solemn dates on our national calendar, a chance for us all to pay our respects to the brave men and women who died in the First World War and all the conflicts that Britain has fought since.

However, due to the continuing struggle against the coronavirus pandemic and the reintroduction of national lockdown measures, it is with a heavy heart that we had to accept that this year’s celebrations would look somewhat different to what has taken place in the past. It was very uplifting to see many residents hold their own private moments of remembrance, and after close consultation with the Royal British Legion a number of very short ceremonies were also held on Sunday in Ashton, where the Civic Mayor laid a wreath on behalf of the borough, as well as in Denton and Stalybridge. None of these events featured more than six official guests, and apart from a bugler playing “The Last Post” there were none of the bands or processions that usually accompany the ceremonies. In these uncertain times, we felt that this was the best way for Tameside to pay our formal respects while also maintaining public health and safety.

 

That means we’ve had to come up with other ways to allow residents to pay their respects to the sacrifices made by Tameside past and present armed forces members.  Since the beginning of the month, our Local Studies and Archives team has been hard at work hosting an online “11 Days of Remembrance” programme, posting daily stories taken from the Manchester Regiment archives at 11am every day on their social media account. For people who want to create and display their own symbols of remembrance, a number of craft activity guides such as how to make a window poppy are also available from our website here. The council also floodlit Dukinfield Town Hall in red over Remembrance weekend, while our culture service has created and streamed an online video marking the contribution made by the borough’s servicemen and women.
 

For the 11th November itself, we joined a national campaign to ask residents to mark the traditional two minute silence from their doorsteps, in a similar way to how we so powerfully showed our pride and appreciation for our NHS workers back in the spring.

As well as the events on the day, we also looked at ways in which we can commemorate our fallen soldiers in a more permanent fashion. To that end, we’ve painted poppies on the roads in each of Tameside’s nine towns. These painted flowers, which are accompanied by the words “Lest We Forget”, will allow us all to pay our respects while also staying safe and adhering to government regulations to not attend gatherings during lockdown. To give just one example, Denton’s poppy has been painted on Lance Corporal Andrew Breeze Way, which was named in honour of the former Audenshaw School pupil who was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2010. He was one of many in Tameside who made the ultimate sacrifice in battlefields as far flung as France, Burma, Korea, Vietnam and Iraq.

 

But as I always say, our commitment to Tameside’s armed forces has to go on for the other 364 days of the years as well. Since 2012 we’ve been proud members of the Armed Forces Covenant, and since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic we’ve worked closely to provide support to all our former and current servicemen and women, especially those that are vulnerable due to old age, mental health difficulties or being at risk of homelessness. 

Any members of the public who still wish to lay their own wreath are free to do so as long as they adhere to the national guidelines on social distancing. The borough has a number of smaller war memorials, away from town centres, which are ideal for personal ceremonies and reflection.

Let no one be in any doubt. Even as we fight the coronavirus pandemic, Tameside still remembers.

 

Posted by: Executive Leader


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