A focus on real people - and a direct link with the effect the conflict had on local communities - was at the centre of Hebden Bridge’s service of comemmoration at Hope Baptist Church on Sunday to commemorate the centenary of the first world war.
The service focused on the impact of the war on the families of local people. Phylis Walstow, who celebrated her 100th birthday this year, attended the service with family and friends. Her father was killed on active service in 1915.
The newly commissioned Roll of Honour was introduced at the service. It tells the stories of those who were killed in World War one and focuses on the lives of individuals as members of the community as well as their military service, bringing the names to life as real people.
The Rev Alan Wolfenden, minister for Hope Baptist Church, led the service and posed the question ‘Where was God?’ in World War One, and reflected that “a suffering God was right for a suffering world.”
The Roll of Honour was introduced by Mike Edwards who has worked tirelessly to research and put together this fitting memorial to those who lost their lives in the war.
Mayor of Hebden Royd Coun Jonathan Timbers considered the lives of all those who were affected by the war, then and now, including those who opposed it. He reflected on the idealism of those who went, believing that they were fighting for a new world order, where stronger nations would protect weaker ones and war itself would eventually die out. He said that the world of today was born out of the war, and that everyone today is still affected by it.
Coun Timbers said: “It was a moving event. We wanted to make it about peace and understanding with a focus on real people, faithful to the spirit of those who endured the war, not glorifying it but putting it in its human context.” A collection taken during the service which was split between Hope Baptist Church and the Mayor’s charities, chosen this year with the centenary in mind. These are St Augustine’s Centre which helps many people including refugees displaced by war, and Combat Stress which provides counselling for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.
A day later, on the anniversary of the day in which Britain joined the war, Coun Timbers joined with members of the community at Hebden Bridge and District Royal British Legion’s reflective commemoration events which included services at memorials in New Road, Hebden Bridge, and Burnley Road, Mytholmroyd, led by Rev Cathy Reardon, and an evening vigil service at St Michael’s Church, Mytholmroyd.
Auriol McDougall, of the RBL, said: “The events all went really well and the service that Cathy Reardon put together was superb and brought a lot of good comments from people attending. It struck just the right note.”