Tuesday, 17 July 2018

The Mayor’s address

THIS year marked several significant anniversaries — the Battle of Britain 75 years ago, VE Day,

THIS year marked several significant anniversaries — the Battle of Britain 75 years ago, VE Day, the end of the World War Two in Europe 70 years ago, and VJ Day, which officially ended the Second World War.

The United Kingdom brigade of Gurkhas also marked their 200th anniversary of outstanding service and loyalty to the Crown.

Here in our parish we remembered those in our community who lost their lives in the First World War.

A special service was held for Captain Arthur Walker, who was killed in action, aged just 19. It was his father John Walker who later donated land to build a hospital in Henley — this was to be a memorial to the war and so named the “War Memorial Hospital”.

One hundred years ago another young man lost his life while billeted and training in Henley. He was sapper William Woolley, of the Royal Engineers. A memorial service was held on the banks of the Thames in August.

Just yesterday I was privileged to attend a dedication service for Pte Charles Edward Tidman, who served in the Royal Berkshire Regiment in World War One.

As I stood in the graveyard for the service among his descendants, who had travelled far and wide to honour their family member, I was moved by the raw emotion of the moment.

We know much of the dates and facts of the world wars but we cannot fully comprehend the suffering of the servicemen and women and their families both during the conflicts and after.

We keep their memory alive even after all these years have passed because they lost their lives defending our country, protecting the freedom we have today.

I respect and give thanks to the Royal British Legion and service charities they  co-operate with. They give their support not only to war veterans, but to those who have suffered in more recent conflicts.

All money raised by the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal goes to help members of the Royal Navy, British Army, Royal Air Force, reservists, veterans and their families.

The local branch of the Legion has a new initiative to work with the service’s youth organisations. Cadet units working with the Royal British Legion branches is mutually beneficial.

Today in the town hall I will be presenting certificates to the three cadet corps to mark their affiliation with the local branch of the British Legion. All are welcome.

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