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Remembering those who shall not grow old

Photo John France

In contrast to the conflict that tore nations apart and changed lives forever, Penrith Town Council were proud to see that the Centenary of the end of WW1 on 11th November brought different generations of people in Penrith together to remember the men and women of the town who gave their lives in the Great War.

This special Remembrance Day brought even greater resonance than usual, and, despite the wet weather, many members of the community joined the morning parade to mark their respect. Led by the Town Band, the group walked from the Town Hall to St Andrews Churchyard, where Revd. David Sargent asked the many different age groups congregated around the War Memorial to remember all those who suffered and died in WW1, and in other conflicts since.

100 years after War’s end, St Andrew’s church bells peeled to mark the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. Afterwards, the congregation observed 2 minutes silence before moving into the Church for a poignant service conducted by Revd. Sargent.

The large number of wreaths were brought from St Andrews Church to Castle Park by members of the Penrith Branch of the British Legion and placed around Memorial Gate, where younger members of Penrith’s Army Cadets paid their respects to the fallen.

For several months, shopkeepers in the town have been creating vibrant window displays, in remembrance of all those who went to war and did not return. These and many other community efforts created evocative displays around the town.

Large pebbles painted with poppies and displaying the names of those who perished in the Great War were placed in various different locations around town by youngsters from North Lakes School, who also made a large number of poppies using the bottom of plastic lemonade bottles painted with red tractor paint. Residents of Great Dockray used the poppies to decorate garden plots in the car parking areas to remind people parking cars about the sacrifice made by so many during WW1. The Penrith ‘Out of School Club’ also got involved, creating window displays of poppies with the key dates to be remembered.

To remember all those who were killed and those who suffered mentally and physically in WW1, the Town Council shared a message on their Facebook Page @penrithtowncouncil, inviting residents in Penrith to put a remembrance light in their window or outside their front door between 7.00pm and 9.00pm on the 11th November.

The post soon attracted commitment from people in Penrith, quickly followed by similar commitment from people in surrounding villages such as Catterlin, Lazonby, Great Salkeld, Armathwaite, Appleby, Crosby Ravensworth, Greystoke, Ulverston and Kirby Thore.

Soon after, Facebookers in Carlisle committed, and there were suggestions to share the idea at national level. Shares brought commitment from Leicester, Orpington, Nottingham and then Australia and New Zealand. The posts eventually reached 32,691 people and engaged 5,567 Facebook users. 636 shares in a short space of time led to lights being lit in people’s windows and outside front doors to remember the fallen not only in Penrith but also in many locations far beyond the town.

In the evening, between 150-200 people braved the rain to walk to the top of the Beacon to see it lit up by the Town Council. The Town’s Mayor read all 201 names of the fallen, and members of the Lions Group helped the lights travel from the Beacon back down to the Church

The Town Council also provided resources to Eden Valley Artistic Network (EVAN), to support their ‘Remembered’ exhibition and a free performance event in the evening of 11th November at the George, with original music, old classics, poetry, dance and a sing-song. The EVAN exhibition will continue until 17th November.

Memories of the day and evening have been captured by the Town Council in images, slideshows and videos that can be viewed on Facebook @penrithtowncouncil. Please like and share. These will soon be copied to a new ‘Community Memories’ Section on the Council website https://www.penrithtowncouncil.co.uk where they will be available into the future. Penrith Remembers 1914-1918.

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