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Remembrance Sunday 2020: How Suffolk remembered all those who fought and died for our country




The nation fell silent this morning.

For two minutes.

At precisely 11am, thoughts in Suffolk turned to all those who fought and died for the country, the commonwealth, the county.

The War Memorial in Hundon. Picture Richard Marsham
The War Memorial in Hundon. Picture Richard Marsham

Remembrance Sunday is held in the United Kingdom as a day to commemorate the contribution of British and Commonwealth military and civilian servicemen and women in the two World Wars and later conflicts.

But it was very different this year.

Gone were the public gatherings, the marches, the parades.

Instead, while veterans, civil dignitaries and serving military personnel met for small private socially distanced services, the nation remembered, on their doorsteps, and in a myriad of other, technological ways.

For Remembrance Sunday 2020 - a year like no other - millions also took to Twitter, Facebook and Youtube, amongst others, to pay tribute.

And, in spirit of the words of the Dean of St Edmundsbury, The Very Reverend Joseph Hawes, during a private service at the Abbey Rose Gardens, on Saturday, they remembered.

As human beings, it is good for us to set aside time every year, to remember again, to hold silence, to pray, to give thanks, to recommit ourselves to the cause, of peace making, for the cause of freedom, for the cause of self giving, living - in all that we do. Rev Joseph Hawes

And that is exactly what thousands of people did, in a year when loss is felt more keenly than most.

Ken Rowbottom, chair of the Suffolk County Royal British Legion, said he was proud of the county.

"In the years ahead when the Covid-19 epidemic has passed and everyday life has returned to normality people in Suffolk will remember the year 2020 as one of lockdowns, social distancing, face masks, lots of new words plus numerous government restrictions that made day to day life very trying," he said.

Ken Rowbottom, county chairman of the Suffolk Royal British Legion. Picture by Mecha Morton
Ken Rowbottom, county chairman of the Suffolk Royal British Legion. Picture by Mecha Morton

"More importantly they will readily remember that Remembrance Day in the county was cancelled, the Poppy Appeal was different and the traditional red poppies were a scarce item."

"This negative thinking must never be allowed to flourish and be a key subject in endless conversations.

The county of Suffolk and in particular The Royal British Legion has acquired a reputation for being forward looking, thinking outside the box and getting things done despite many obstacles that have had to be confronted.

"In January of this year we looked forward to a year of major celebrations and commemorations, around of fundraising and meeting old friends at major events in the county that have welcomed our participation, finally culminating in our busiest time of the year in late October and November, The Poppy Appeal and Remembrance Sunday.

We did not know at the time, but as the year progressed, we would be attacked by an unseen and deadly enemy that would ensure that those events that we had planned and were appreciated by the county, would be cancelled.

"It has been difficult but the RBL in the county has met this challenge. VE Day on May 8 was celebrated throughout the county with numerous mini events that were a product of creative thinking, VJ Day on the August 15 saw the RBL participate in the moving service that was held in St Mary's Church in Bury St Edmunds.

"The second strike of the corona virus pandemic has curtailed all the planned Remembrance Sunday Parades and Services, that over the years have gained a huge support from the general public in the county.

"The Poppy Appeal has suffered, but it has not been cancelled or postponed, it has had to be done differently this year. Remembrance Sunday on November 8 did not see traditional church services or parades in towns and villages.

"There were instead numerous 'Acts of Remembrance' at village and town war memorials, wreaths were laid to honour sacrifices made, poppies were planted.

"The county and The Royal British Legion will commemorate in numerous ways, the sacrifices made by many so that we can enjoy the freedom that we have today.

It has been a very difficult year for everyone, but we have not given up.

"We thought, discussed, communicated and found different methods of pursuing our role as custodians of Remembrance in The County and The Country.

"It has worked and Suffolk has been very appreciative of our efforts."

Here is how Remembrance Sunday unfolded around the county

Hundon

By Steve Barton

A Remembrance Service was held at the newly-sited war memorial in Hundon.

The memorial includes names of the village’s casualties in both the First World War and the Second World War and it had been located in the churchyard.

A project was started to renovate the memorial due to its poor condition and also, to add some names to it.

A number of quotes for the work were obtained before the renovation was entrusted to HJ Paintin Funeral Directors and Monumental Masons in Haverhill.

The memorial was removed about six weeks ago and the improvement made.

The decision was taken to relocate the memorial to North Street, on a piece of land in front of the village hall, shop and post office.

The first Remembrance Day service to be held at the memorial since it was moved will be at 10.50am, thereafter at the RAF Memorial.

Newmarket

By Alison Hayes

In Newmarket, although the annual High Street parade was cancelled, the town council in conjunction with the town's branch of the Royal British Legion, decided the wreath laying should go ahead at the town's war memorial.

The service was limited to 18 invited guests including the town's mayor Cllr Michael Jefferys, who also laid a wreath on behalf of the town's MP and health secretary Matt Hancock. Others taking part included the deputy Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk Kirsten Rausing, Cllr Brian Harvey of West Suffolk Council and Chris Barker representing Newmarket Royal British Legion.

The Mildenhall and district branch of the Royal British Legion organised the wreath laying on the town's memorial to the fallenas well in villages across the district including West Row, Barton Mills, Worlington, Herringswell, Freckenham and Tuddenham.

RAF Honnington

By Victoria Quamina (RAF Honington media officer)

Commander Group Captain Matt Radnall took part in a small ceremony in Bury. St Edmunds today whereby bugler Mr. Chris Beard of the RAF Honington Voluntary Band played the last post. This year sees Remembrance events scaled down due to Covid 19 restrictions, and sadly our usual participation in local parades have not been able to go ahead.

Remembrance itself of course continues regardless, and we have paid our respects to all personnel who have died as a result of their Service by laying wreaths at over 20 memorials within our local community during this Remembrance period.

Group Captain Radnall said: “Despite the unique challenges we face this year that we mean we are not able to observe Remembrance day as we would wish, it is never the less right that we should each find time to reflect on the sacrifice of those that have gone before us.”

Lavenham

By John Heeks

At Lavenham, the traditional Remembrance Day parade and service had to be re-arranged to comply with the latest Covid regulations.

Instead of the normal march by troops stationed at the Wattisham Apache base, church service and reception at the village’s Royal British Legion Club, this year’s event was limited to a brief ceremony in the village’s market place at which representatives from the British Army, the Royal Air Force and the United States Air Force laid wreaths.

The tribute wall in Lavenham’s market-place where wreaths were laid. Picture John Heeks
The tribute wall in Lavenham’s market-place where wreaths were laid. Picture John Heeks

The roll call of the dead from Lavenham who fell in two world wars were read out – as well as that of Lance Corporal of Horse Jo Woodgate, the young soldier killed in Afghanistan ten years ago.

Jo, 26, who served in the Household Cavalry, died just days before his tour if duty in the Middle East was due to end. Today (SUNDAY) his father Tony laid a wreath during the Lavenham ceremony.

The county’s Lord Lieutenant Clare Countess of Euston was represented by retired Crown Court Judge John Devaux, the parish council by chairman Carroll Reeve and the British Legion Club by Richard Howe.

The village’s own branch of the legion was represented by its President Falconer Wallace.

The short service in the market place was taken by the village’s rector the Rev Stephen Earl as the church St Peter and St Paul’s – the usual setting for the service, is now under new coronavirus rules and only open for private prayers and not services

Around the county

By Rebekah Chilvers

Stowmarket

A small number of representatives from the town's RBL, local churches and the town council met at the Memorial Gates to pay tribute.

This event was by invitation only, with the service live-streamed on Stowmarket Town Council's online platforms.

Armistice Day, on November 11, will also be observed in a further invitation-only ceremony at the Recreation Ground Memorial Gates.

Mildenhall

Remembrance services went ahead, with social distancing measures in place.

Beccles

A short service of Remembrance was held at Beccles War Memorial with limited numbers and wreath-laying from 2pm.

And on Wednesday, November 11 – Armistice Day – there will be a two-minute silence held in the town centre from 11am.

Brandon

A small wreath-laying ceremony was held with representatives of local organisations laying the wreaths on behalf of the community.

on Armistice Day, a two-minute silence will be observed on the market square from 11am

Eye

In Eye, there was a 'low-key' Remembrance event happening, with marshals in place to guide anyone who wants to lay a wreath.

A 10-minute ceremony was also held

Felixstowe

A small civic party laid wreaths at the war memorial at 11am.

The service was live-streamed on the RBL Felixstowe Facebook page and a digital service sheet accompanied the commemoration.

The town is also set to bring back a Festival of Remembrance this year at the Spa Pavilion but this has been postponed to 2021.

There was a virtual Festival of Remembrance though, held by Felixstowe's RBL branch and Ceremonial News, live on Facebook and YouTube on Saturday from 7.30pm.

Hadleigh

A wreath-laying and Remembrance service took place at Hadleigh War Memorial, limited to invited guests.

Haverhill

A ceremony was held at the war memorialwith limited numbers of representatives from local groups and organisations.

A live-stream was available online, which will include wreath laying, addresses and prayers, the national anthem and a rendition of Reveille.

People joined the virtual commemoration by visiting Haverhill Town Council’s social media channels – on YouTube and on Facebook.

Ipswich

A service was held at the Cenotaph in Ipswich's Christchurch Park.

A limited number of guests were invited.

The video stream was broadcast via BBC iPlayer.

The borough council developed a webpageof alternative activities to help residents commemorate Remembrance Day from home.

Kesgrave

Kesgrave's Remembrance service on Armistice Day will not be open to the public, due to coronavirus restrictions.

Instead, the town councilhopes to have a pre-recorded or live stream service that residents will be able to view via their website.

Long Melford

A live-streamed service was held.

A Remembrance Garden has also been set up for people to lay their tribute, which is available until mid November.

Sudbury

Wreath-laying took place at St Andrews Church in Great Cornard and St Gregory's Church.

The Garden of Remembrance outside St Gregory’s Church is available for those who wish to place a cross.

Wickham Market

Residents watched this year's Remembrance service online, via YouTube.

Woodbridge

Members of the public and local organisations can lay a wreath at the war memorial in their own time, adhering to Government guidelines.

Wrentham

The village commemorated Remembrance Sunday outside and socially-distanced around the churchyard War Memorial.

#lestweforget

Read more: All the latest news from Suffolk