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What a remarkable week it was both in the run-up to and Remembrance Sunday itself – one that having the honour to be Chippenham’s Mayor I shall never forget. There was so much activity throughout the town as people marked the end of the First World War a century ago in their own particular way.
The most awesome experience was the stunning performance by the cast which presented the “First World War Centenary Show” at The Cause Theatre. It was simply an exchange of letters between a mother and her son serving at the front line. The anguish, horrors and fears contained in them at times left the audience in stunned silence.
In clever contrast the show ended with a theatrical sing-along of songs from the Good Old Days in which everyone enthusiastically joined in replacing the sadness of the first half with a fun feeling in the latter.
Earlier in the week I attended Hardenhuish School’s own Commemoration Service along with the Lord Lieutenant for Wiltshire, Sarah Rose Troughton and MP for Chippenham Constituency Michelle Donelan.
It was followed by a ceremony in the school grounds attended by some 1,700 pupils who, along with the staff, planted poppies while the main guests including myself laid wreathes.
On Remembrance Sunday the town centre was packed for the service and wreath laying at the War Memorial and the march past down the High Street by 9th Regiment RLC, the Royal British Legion and other community groups.
There were also “full houses” at St Andrew’s Church for its traditional style service in the morning and St.Paul’s audience participation one in the afternoon.
We must also always remember the sacrifices made by our soldiers, airmen and sailors in the Second World War.
The unveiling of the WW1 Commemorative Tapestry combined with a re-enactment of the peace celebrations that were held 100 years ago were a poignant end to the Remembrance period. The WW1 Commemorative Tapestry was commissioned by Chippenham Town Council and funded with the assistance of Chippenham Borough Lands Charity and Wiltshire Council’s Area Board. The tapestry was created by local textile artist, Fi Redmond, who integrated selected pieces from local schools into the finished design. The tapestry is on display at the museum in a special exhibition ‘Remembrance’ which features objects from the museum’s WW1 collection as well as more textile responses from Chippenham’s schools and community.
One highly unusual event Nina and I went to was the “Party on the Drive” which was exactly that – in the driveway and garage of a gentleman well known simply as Prince on the Pewsham estate. It raised a large sum for charity and later he made a generous donation to my Alzheimer’s Wiltshire Support fund.
My comments would not be complete without much deserved congratulations to all involved in the retention of Chippenham’s Purple Flag status especially as the nationwide presentation ceremony was held in the Neeld and attended by representatives of other successful towns from around the country and Northern Ireland.
Finally to end on a really cheerful note. The town centre was absolutely packed again last Saturday (24th November) evening for the Christmas Lights switch on turning it into an area of sparkling colour. It was a great fun occasion and many thanks to all concerned organising such a memorable event.
Cllr Andy Phillips