Harrogate school children have created a light for every name on Harrogate’s war memorial as part of remarkable plans to mark the end of the First World One by the town’s largest and most architecturally important church.
Each of the 879 lights on display in rows of individual jam jars at St Wilfrid’s Church this weekend will have the name of the child who decorated it on one side and the name of a soldier on the other.
The work by pupils from Richard Taylor Primary, Rossett Acre, Saltergate, Western Primary and Brackenfield schools is just the tip of the iceberg of an extensive programme of events for St Wilfrid’s special Remembrance Weekend which has been hailed as a “brilliant example of the local community working together.”
First opened in 1904 and designed by one of England’s greatest architects Temple Lushington Moore, St Wilfrid’s is to be floodlit over the entire Remembrance weekend in traditional poppy red between 4pm and midnight in tribute to Harrogate soldiers who died in the 1914-18 conflict.
And there will be a new exhibition there this Saturday from 4pm dedicated to the 17 men who are named on the church’s own World War One memorial inside this Grade 1 listed building’s Holy Spirit Chapel to be opened by relatives of the Averdiecks, two Harrogate brothers who died in the war.
With the help of local researchers, project designer Catherine Wright has found photographs of some of the men, then discovered where they lived, their connection to Harrogate, what their families did and the details of their tragic sacrifice on the battlefield.
Specially commissioned artwork by Henshaw’s charity will be installed in its chapel from Saturday with ten “There but not There” silhouettes on display.
St Wilfrid’s will crown its commemorations with a Parish Mass of Remembrance this Sunday at 10am.
Rebecca Oliver, facilities manager at St Wilfrid Harrogate says - “This project has been a brilliant example of the local community working together.
“The information on the men was researched by volunteers and talented family history researchers.
“The main thing is that all this hard work and generosity has paid off, and those named on the cenotaph and on our memorial are more present in the minds of everyone who sees the exhibition.”
Team Rector Father Gary Waddington said it was vitally important that the sacrifices made by so many are never forgotten.
He said: “Staging this exhibition for the centenary of the end of the first World War is vitally important.
“It reminds us we’re not just remembering a past event or person as though we’re recalling what we had for dinner last week.
“It calls us to a deeper engagement, to ask “why?” and to learn from that past in order to continually build peace for the future.
“This weekend powerfully reminds us that we still live in a world where the freedoms we often take for granted can come at a great cost and can vanish when we do not cherish them.”
St Wilfrid’s, which launched the restoration, an ongoing appeal in 2015 to update the church’s facilities for 21st century needs, had also forged strong links with Harrogate’s business community and even the scouts to produce this weekend’s commemorations.
Knight Frank and Hadrian Healthcare, along with members of the congregation, have sponsored the Remembrance Weekend.
Ogden’s Jewellers have loaned a display case for the memorabilia, Horticap are lending some rosemary plants to use in the chapel and Lights4Fun provided the 879 LED tealights for the display of lights at a discount.
Harrogate based Allan Smyth is doing the floodlighting of the church, while Harrogate Library have helped with the research.
The 10th Harrogate Scouts are working on some poppies to go out on display and Young Wilf’s Sunday School will also be creating poppies.
The project designer Catherine Wright said the concept had been to put flesh and blood on those names in the church’s war memorial.
She said: “The idea came from looking at the memorial here in church and thinking about how we could create a display which helps visitors to understand more about those men named on the memorial - who they were, what their backgrounds were, and how they died.
“Thankfully, we have been able to put faces to the names on the memorial, and those photographs are a key part of the display.”
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