Big attendance as Todmorden pays tribute

A bumper crowd gathered at Todmorden’s Garden of Remembrance in Centre Vale Park at a special service on Remembrance Sunday.

Several hundred people watched the Vicar of Todmorden, Canon Owen Page, led a service in which people were asked to reflect on the pain caused by war and remember those who had made the ultimate sacrifice.

Vicar of Todmorden, Canon Owen Page, leads the service at Todmorden Garden of Remembrance on Remembrance Sunday, 2014

Vicar of Todmorden, Canon Owen Page, leads the service at Todmorden Garden of Remembrance on Remembrance Sunday, 2014

Moving moments included the sounding of the Last Post and Todmorden Community Band leading everyone in hymns which included Abide With Me.

Many local organisations were represented in the parade and many laid wreaths at the memorial and flags were dipped in salute.

Civic representatives were headed by the Deputy Lord Lieutenant of West Yorkshire, Kate Moreton-Deakin, and the Mayor and Mayoress of Todmorden, Coun Michael and Nikki Gill, while the parade started at the Dalton Street drill hall site, from where Todmorden’s Territorial Army volunteers marched to muster at Rochdale in 1914.

The parade hit a temporary problem when an ice cream van which was trying to exit the cricket field end of the park blocked the entrance but the parade followed the former traditional route, continuing along Burnley Road.

Stephen Hughes of the parks team immediately sized up the situation and quickly made his way to the bowling green end of the park to unlock the barrier for the parade to enter.

Darren Widdup of the Royal British Legion said: “It was a massive turnout and we had a bit of a longer route to get there for the service.”

Darren is also one of the Todmorden Pals, 21st century volunteers who recreated that march to Rochdale in August. He said the reception they had received had helped encourage people to find out more about the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War, and reflect on those who had died in this and other, later, conflicts.

The interest 2014’s events had created among townspeople - the march, Todmorden Civic Society event unveiling the copies of Gilbert Bayes’ statues at the Garden (the originals having been stolen in the 1990s) and so on - meant all the planning for these events had paid off, culminating in extra interest in the Remembrance week events.

The projects had been between a year and two years in the planning by those concerned.

He said: “The Pals thing has really, really expanded and we’ve been asked to give talks in schools. The lads have enjoyed it too. We will be at a Remembrance event in Bury, the home of the Lancashire Fusliers, next year.

“The interest in events this year has been huge and we hope that shows by the time we finish off the Poppy Appeal.

“Next year there are a lot of anniversaries coming up and although not on the scale of this year’s events we will mark them.”