Wells set for poignant Remembrance events

By Tim Lethaby

16th Jul 2021 | Local News

POPPY petals cascading from high above the nave of Wells Cathedral will be one of the ways in which the city will mark Remembrance Day this year.

The petals will be identical to those used in this year's Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

People will be able to write messages on the petals before they are released during the Cathedral's Remembrance Requiem service on November 11.

"I'm hoping it will be a very poignant moment at the end of the big day, people standing in silence watching these petals fall from the ceiling of the Cathedral. It will be magical," said Derek Cooper, a Wells Royal British Legion committee member and the Wells Poppy Appeal organiser.

Commemorations in Wells on November 11, 2018 – 100 years after the end of the First World War – will start with a lone piper playing in front of the Cathedral at 6am.

The annual civic Remembrance Day service at St Cuthbert's Church and parade along High Street will follow from 9.45am, with earlier and longer than usual road closures because of the special nature of events. Sadler Street, High Street, St Cuthbert Street, Queen Street and Priest Row will be closed from 8am until noon, with carnival group volunteers supervising the closures.

The grassed area around the War Memorial at St Cuthbert's Church will be closed off to the public to allow space for the congregation and number of dignitaries expected to attend, and make it easier for the wreath-layers. Members of the public will be able to watch from St Cuthbert Street and Priest Row.

Mayor of Wells Councillor Celia Wride will take the salute in High Street as the parade makes its way to the Harry Patch Memorial outside Wells & Mendip Museum, where a wreath will also be laid. Some people will then go to lay a wreath at the soldiers' plaque at Wells Cemetery.

On the same day, there will be a demonstration by cadets outside The Bishop's Palace, and the Somerset Poppies display created by thousands of children and organised by Coxley School teacher Dan Vidler will open to the public on the Palace Croquet Lawn.

  • Picture: Poppy Appeal organiser Derek Cooper with Tom Burton of Wells Cathedral's Works Department, standing behind two petals of the poppy for the Garden of Remembrance

At 7.05pm, Wells Town Crier Len Sweales will be one of 100 town criers throughout the UK and around the world who will join together in an International Cry for Peace. Len's cry will take place in the Market Place.

The day before, on Saturday, November 10, he will be doing a cry of a poem about the soldiers of the First World War written by the Wells Big Issue seller known as Feral. Len said: "He liked my rhymes and asked if I would read his poem about the soldiers. I was so impressed I asked if I could make it a cry for others to hear." This cry will take place in the Market Place at 11am.

Other Remembrance activities this year include the creation of a Garden of Remembrance in front of the Cathedral's West Front. A giant poppy has been made by the Cathedral's works department to be placed on a sloping bed of gravel, that will be soft enough for people to plant with wooden crosses bearing personal messages. The crosses are available at both of the Cathedral shops, and at Wells supermarkets.

"A lot of work by a lot of people has gone into the many events going on," said Derek.

"As the Royal British Legion of Wells, we hope that people will come along and spend some of their time looking at some of these wonderful things and share in this very special time of remembrance – 100 years since the end of the First World War."


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