Remembrance at St John in Bedwardine13 Nov 2018 By Sam Setchell
A commemoration of the end of WW1 at St John in Bedwardine, Worcester
Many of our churches commemorated 100 years since the end of the First World War on Sunday. Here's what happened at St. John in Bedwardine Church in Worcester.
Being the 100th Centenary of the end of the Great War (World War 1), members of the church pulled out all the stops to make this year's Remembrance Sunday very special.
The morning found the church packed with people standing and others unable to actually get in the church for the service. The parade from Sainsburys had retired servicemen and women, the band of the Sea Cadets along with other military and children’s groups. The traffic was stopped, and the parade made a magnificent sight marching through St John's to the church where everyone filed in.
The Revd Sarah Cottrill led a very dignified and moving service, specially when she read out the names form the war memorial and two scouts dropped a poppy for each name from the pulpit. James Little read a moving story of a young scout, Jack Cornwell, who enlisted at the age of 15 and then died at the Battle of Jutland when he was only 16. He was later awarded a posthumous VC for remaining at his post on a gun even though very badly wounded. At the end of the service everyone filed out to stand around the War Memorial and it became obvious just how many people had turned up to be part of the commemoration, there had to be over five hundred people in and around the church spilling out on to St John's. The words from ‘They Shall Not Grow Old’ were read and the Last Post was played, and then the many wreaths and poppy crosses were laid at the base of the Memorial. Following this the new bench beside the War Memorial, provided by the Knights of St John's and the Crown Inn, was dedicated by the Revd Sarah.
After the service the parade formed up again and marched back to Sainsburys along the Bromyard Road and St Johns and past the entrance of the church where the oldest member of the RAF present took the salute as it was the 100th Anniversary of the formation of the RAF this year as well. Altogether a very moving event held at the church.
In the evening the Events Team had organised the church’s participation in the Battle’s Over nationwide pageant. The event had grown slowly over the weeks and months approaching the day. The church was decorated with all sorts of poppy related materials and flowers made by the members of the church, the Flower Ladies had pulled out all the stops and there were some wonderful flower decorations. Members of the church had researched people on the War Memorial and local families involved which linked to all the details in the Roll of Honour book. Especially Margaret Miller, who filled one side of the South Aisle with an amazing display of memorabilia and information from the internet, such as Census returns.
The Scouts had a wonderful display of old scouting memorabilia, brought back some fond memories for us old scouts, and had two of their leaders dressed in old uniforms. The Western Front Association joined us and brought various items of memorabilia and one of their team dressed in a WW1 uniform. Paul Harding from Discover History joined us and was also in uniform, his partner Helen was dressed a Voluntary Aid Detachment nurse who helped care for the sick and they also had various items from the war with them. Paul was requested to provide a quick 15 minute overview of the Great War and, in his inevitable style he entertained the 200 people in the church, we reckon that we had over 250 people through the church during the evening event.
Being a church event, of course refreshments were on offer with a wide range of wonderful homemade cakes for people to enjoy. At 6:45pm everyone was ushered outside for the finale of the day where the Revd Sarah read out a couple of prayers and seven buglers from the Band of the Malvern Hills Brigades played the Last Post, which sounded wonderful. The church tower was illuminated and a small beacon fire was lit, while thousands of poppies were dropped from the top of the tower. Finally the bells rang out for peace . Most people left after this, but many actually went back in to the church and continued to look around the exhibits and it was after 7:30pm before the team were able to start clearing.
These were two wonderful commemorative events that the church hosted for the Centenary of the end of the Great War and our thanks go to everyone who helped in any way to make them so successful, they exceeded attendance expectations both in the morning and in the evening.