Services of silence spoke volumes over the weekend as remembrance services took place throughout Dacorum.
Alongside the Remembrance Day parades organised by Dacorum branches of The Royal British Legion – including Hemel Hempstead’s which featured 12 soldiers and a drummer from The Royal Anglian Regiment, as well as personnel from RAF Halton – were a number of poignant tributes to the area’s fallen heroes in all conflicts since the Great War.
This year’s Remembrance Day was even more special given 2014 marks 100 years since the outbreak of the cataclysmic conflict.
Turnout at the services was strong following a series of well-attended commemoration events earlier this year, at the anniversary of the start of the First World War. Hemel Hempstead MP and former serviceman Mike Penning said of the service at the Boxmoor War Memorial, where he laid a wreath: “As far as you could see down to the town centre there were people marching – it was amazing to see.
“What was also brilliant to see was so many serving soldiers home on leave taking part. To have them in the parade was really significant, it was fantastic, especially in this centenary year.”
He also joined around 30 other MPs, all of whom have served in the Armed Forces, in an act of Remembrance ahead of Sunday’s official commemorations.
The service took part at the Guards Chapel in London’s Wellington Barracks. Mr Penning, who served in the Grenadier Guards, said: “I am proud to have taken part in this most memorable service and pay my respects to the many thousands of men and women from Britain and the Commonwealth who lost their lives fighting for our freedom.”
Labour’s prospective Parliamentary candidate Tony Breslin, who went along to the service said: Labour’s Prospective Parliamentary Candidate, said:
“It is with great solemnity that we remember the fallen in this extraordinary centenary of the start of the Great War - their sacrifice was great and the loss felt by those close to them tremendous.”
Quantum Care, which runs care home Mountbatten Lodge in Hemel Hempstead, set a very ambitious target to knit 2,000 poppies to present at its Veterans’ Tea Party celebration.
The event, which took place on Sunday at the Old Crabtree Lane home, saw each resident receiving a poppy with a donation made by Quantum Care to the Royal British Legion.
Lorraine Sheward, activity co-ordinator at the Hemel Hempstead home, said: “It’s been a definite team effort from all concerned.
“Some residents have been winding up small balls of wool from the bigger balls, whilst other residents start knitting, and others are sewing them together.
“Everyone involved was having lots of fun making them!”
The Legion’s community fundraiser Natasha Robertson said: “The support we have gained for this year’s Poppy Appeal from Quantum Care has been fantastic. All of the staff have been really enthusiastic in their fundraising and I would like to say a huge thank you to them all for their support.
“It’s as important as ever to wear a poppy and remember the sacrifices and commitment made by our Armed Forces, both then and now.”
As reported in last week’s Gazette, Sainsbury’s in Apsley Mills marked 20 years of being an official supporter of the Poppy Appeal, with the store manager and colleagues encouraging customers to donate in the run up to Armistice Day (today), including volunteering their time to sell poppies and taking part in a static bicycle ride covering the distance from John O’Groats to Lands End.
Royal British Legion Hemel Hempstead branch vice chairman Sue Rose was also recognised for her 17th year of service to the appeal.
She said: “The good work the Royal British Legion does for veterans, families and young people is incredibly close to my heart.
“Remembering the fallen heroes and supporting returning service personnel is hugely important.”