More than 500 people from all across Bedfordshire come together in a special commemoration at St Mary’s Parish Church, Woburn on Sunday (May 11).
HM Lord-Lieutenant of Bedfordshire, Helen Nellis, held a service which marked the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War and the 70th anniversary of D-Day and also acknowledged the very significant contribution made by all voluntary organisations to the life of the county.
The service featured music from the Vauxhall Male Voice Choir from Luton and the Fusion Choir from Bedford and included special items to commemorate both anniversaries.
The service, held in the presence of Rt Rev Dr Alan Smith, the Bishop of St Albans, who gave the address, and Rt Revd Richard Atkinson OBE, the Bishop of Bedford, was led by Rev Steve Nuth, Rector of St Mary’s Parish Church, Woburn.
Major Ron Rogers, a D-Day veteran read the poem Normandy by Cyril Crain, while Rosanna Billington, aged 13, read a poem entitled ‘Why do the Poppies Fall’ which she had written herself.
Caitlin Miller read part of the poem For the Fallen by Laurence Binyon during the singing of Keep the Home Fires Burning by the Fusion Choir.
The Vauxhall Male Voice Choir sang two anthems – Let There Be Peace on Earth and the Soldiers Chorus.
Readings were given by HM Lord-Lieutenant and by Donald Parsons, Chairman of Bedford Daycare Hospice. A prayer was shared by the Lord-Lieutenant’s cadets; Elisabeth Ackah, Rebecca Brighton, Jarvis Brooks-Lampard, Tim Funnell and Emily Moule.
Bedfordshire dignitaries present included the Duke and Duchess of Bedford, High Sheriff of Bedfordshire, Colin Osborne and Dave Hodgson, Mayor of Bedford. Town mayors from across the county, the Chief Constable and representatives of county wide organisations and armed forces personnel were also present.
Army Cadets, Sea Cadets, Guides and Cadets from the police and fire service were on hand to assist those attending the service, after which refreshments were taken in the church which was beautifully decorated, courtesy of the Duchess of Bedford, with flowers from the estate.
Speaking after the service the Lord-Lieutenant, Helen Nellis said, “I was delighted that so many people from across Bedfordshire were able to share in this special service to commemorate these significant events in our history and in which we also honoured the service and dedication of the many voluntary organisations across Bedfordshire.
“It was a particular pleasure to hold the service at Woburn, one of the most beautiful historic estates in Bedfordshire.
“To have a veteran of D-Day and a young person inspired to write such a thoughtful poem both participating in the service was truly memorable and poignant.
“The music from the Vauxhall Male Voice Choir and the Fusion Choir shows what talented people we have in the county.
“I was pleased to be supported by my Lord-Lieutenant’s cadets and all the other cadets and young people who provided the guard of honour for all those attending the service and who were a credit to their organisations and to Bedfordshire.”