|Huntingdon proudly reflected on over a century of sacrifice with two remembrance services, held in Huntingdon Market Square over the weekend of 11th-12th November.
On Saturday 11th November, Huntingdon Town Council welcomed over 50 members of the Huntingdon and Peterborough Federation of WIs (HPFWI) to commemorate 100 years since the unveiling of the Thinking Soldier War Memorial. The local Huntingdon branch of the WI had fundraised for a memorial following the great war, which was sculpted by Kathleen, Lady Scott (1878-1947), the widow of Captain Scott of the Antarctic and unveiled on 11th November 1923 by the 9th Earl of Sandwich.
Louisa Young, granddaughter of Lady Scott and Viscount Hinchingbrooke, great grandson of the 9th Earl, were invited to re-unveil the Thinking Soldier as part of the service in which HPFWI Vice Chairman Karen Prestidge gave a reading of ‘In Flanders Fields’ and the St Neots Jewels WI Choir led the service in a rendition of Jerusalem. The music was provided by Rushden Brass band. Following a prayer of dedication by the Mayor’s Chaplain, Reverend Jon Randall, the market square remained quiet as the service moved into a traditional Armistice Day Act of Remembrance.
Wreaths were then laid by the Deputy Lieutenant Mr John Bridge OBE MStJ DL, on behalf of the Lord Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire, and the Mayor of Huntingdon, Cllr Phil Pearce, followed by other civic guests and different branches of the WI from across Huntingdonshire and Peterborough.
At the conclusion of the service, Huntingdon Town Council welcomed guests into the town hall for a small reception, where the choir gave a short performance. Guests were also treated to a variety of homemade biscuits and were able to look at a display of history and memorabilia, courtesy of the WI.
Philip Peacock, Town Clerk said: “The Thinking Solider War Memorial is a landmark of our town. It acts as a permanent memorial that we shouldn’t forget the sacrifice of the Armed Forces and should continue to work hard to preserve the peace that they fought for. We are so pleased that we were able to welcome members of the WI and the families of those involved in its creation to join with the residents of Huntingdon in our commemorations.”
On Sunday 12th November, Huntingdon Town Council and RAF Wyton joined with residents and visitors to Huntingdon to honour the memory and sacrifice of the Armed Forces and their families, from Britain and the Commonwealth, as well as the vital role played by the emergency services and those that have lost their lives because of conflict or terrorism.
A Military Parade was formed of the RAF Wyton Area Voluntary Band, a contingent of personnel from RAF Wyton, members of the Royal British legion, Royal naval Association and Royal Air Force Association, and young people from TS Cromwell Sea cadets Unit 593, 73 (Huntingdon) Squadron RAF Air Cadets and Cambridgeshire Army Cadets – Cambridgeshire Contingent. RAF Wyton personnel also formed a Guard of Honour around the Thinking Soldier War memorial.
The parade marched into the Market Square and was then joined by the Civic Party. The Mayor’s Chaplain Reverend Jon Randall and RAF Wyton’s Station Chaplain, Reverend Jesse Holland led the service of remembrance supported by The RAF Wyton Area Voluntary Band and the Military Wives Choir Wyton and Brampton. The service was signed by Reverend Jan Smith, Chaplain working with Deaf and Deafblind people in Ely Diocese.
Wreaths were then laid by the Deputy Lieutenant Mr Daryl Brown MBE DL, on behalf of the Lord Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire, and the Mayor of Huntingdon, Cllr Phil Pearce. Cllr Tom Sanderson laid a wreath on behalf of Cambridgeshire County Council; Cllr Michael Burke laid a wreath on behalf of Huntingdonshire District Council. The Deputy Mayor of Huntingdon Cllr Karl Brockett laid a wreath on behalf of Sir John Major, and Mr Jonathon Djanogly MP and Police and Crime Commissioner Darryl Preston also laid wreaths. Wing Commander Jim Doyle MBE and Lt Colonel Allen Little laid wreaths of behalf of RAF Wyton and RAF Alconbury.
At the end of the service, the Civic party were escorted to the Saluting Dais in St Benedicts Court, where they then received the salute as the parade left the market square and marched down Huntingdon High Street. A small reception was then held in All Saints Church.
Cllr Karl Webb, Armed Forces Champion for Huntingdon Town Council said: “This weekend has been a truly moving experience for those who have served, are serving, or will serve in the future, but also moving for families, and friends, all who were here today to remember the fallen and for those who came home but left so much behind. These parades do not happen without planning, teamwork, and support from the Town, District, and County councils, the personnel from RAF Wyton (uniformed and civilian), our uniformed services, veterans, community groups, security and first aid, grounds teams and marshals, our clerical team, and of course, all the people who took part either in the parade or in support today.”
For those who were unable to attend, live streams of both events are available to watch on the Huntingdon Town Council Facebook page.
Source: Press Release from Huntingdon Town Council dated 13th November, 2023.