Tuesday, 28 September 2021

Henley remembers

THOUSANDS of people paid their respects to the fallen at services of remembrance on Sunday.

THOUSANDS of people paid their respects to the fallen at services of remembrance on Sunday.

Click here to view our picture gallery of some of those who attended.

Families joined veterans, civic dignitaries and cadets in parades in Henley and other towns and villages across South Oxfordshire.

They paid tribute to those who died in the two world wars and more modern conflicts, including Iraq and Afghanistan.

The services were conducted at 11am to mark the official end of the First World War at 11am on November 11, 1918.

In Henley, hundreds gathered in Market Place on a chilly but sunny day for the traditional service and two-minute silence.

Roads around the town hall were closed to allow a parade, which included Army, Navy and Royal Air Force cadets, firefighters, cubs, scouts, brownies and guides.

The ceremony began when choristers from St Mary?s Church arrived at the town hall steps.

At the stroke of 11am, town sergeant Cliff Austin carried the mace down the steps followed by Mayor Stefan Gawrysiak and fellow town councillors in their robes of office.

The Rev Canon Martyn Griffiths, the rector of St Mary?s, led the service and gave an address.

He was followed by Brigadier Malcolm Page, president of the Henley branch of the Royal British Legion, who cited Ode of Remembrance, from Laurence Binyon?s poem For the Fallen.

A bugler then played the Last Post to signal the start of the two-minute silence, which was impeccably observed and concluded with the Reveille. Veteran Brian Hughes, of Harpsden Road, Henley, was carrying the Legion?s standard, which he dipped as a mark of respect.

Six standard bearers of the youth groups and cadets followed his example. Members of the crowd observed the silence by bowing their heads, standing to attention, raising their hands to their hearts or dipping their hats in salute. Brig Page read out the Kohima Epitaph and choirsters sang the hymn We Rest On Thee. L Cpl Rhea Simister, an army cadet from Harpsden, read the lesson and prayers were read before the Mayor?s address.

Addressing the crowd from the town hall steps, Councillor Gawrysiak: ?During this service today we remember in solemn reflection the ultimate sacrifice made by men and women.

?We pause, we reflect and, with grateful thanks, we remember those who serve to secure and preserve our freedom.?

He thanked the Royal British Legion for its custodial role in remembrance as well as the charities Help for Heroes and Combat Stress for caring for the injured.

Addressing the past and current service personnel present, the Mayor said: ?Today the people of Henley-on-Thames salute you and all the people of Henley-on-Thames and surrounding villages say thank you.

?We thank all the parents who have brought their children and grandchildren to this service today so that they can share in this act of remembrance.

?We also thank the young people from all the youth organisations of Henley. The baton of remembrance is being passed down the generations and this respect will continue for years to come.?

Cllr Gawrysiak then read out a letter written to his family by 19-year-old soldier Cyrus Thatcher, from Caversham, in case of his death.

Cyrus, a member of 2nd Battalion, The Rifles, was killed instantly after stepping on a roadside bomb while on patrol in Helmand Province on June 2, 2009.

The rifleman called his father Rob ?my idol, my friend, my best friend, my teacher, my coach? and paid tribute to his ?perfect? mother Helena Tym and his brothers, Zac and Steely.

Some people in the crowd were visibly moved by the letter, in which Cyrus asked his family not to mourn his death (the full text is printed right). After another hymn, the Act of Commitment, the Lord?s Prayer, the National Anthem and a blessing, poppy wreaths were laid on the town hall steps by members of the parade, the Mayor, Henley police sergeant Graham Pink and South Oxfordshire District Council leader Ann Ducker.

Paul Smyth, a major in the Territorial Army, was the parade marshal who led the groups around the market place to rapturous applause.

The crowd included Laura Bennett, whose husband Carl is a corporal in the 4th battalion Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers and is currently on a six-week training programme in Kenya.

The couple met at the service five years ago and have a three-year-old son Joe.

Click here to view our picture gallery of some of those who attended.

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