Oli Leeming-Sheppard from TS Cleopatra SCC laying tea lights by the war graves

Stonefall Cemetery in Harrogate host Candlelit Christmas Remembrance Service

A Candlelit Christmas Remembrance service took place at Stonefall Cemetery in Harrogate on Sunday to pay respects to the fallen.

By Lucy Chappell
Tuesday, 21st December 2021, 11:02 am
Updated Tuesday, 21st December 2021, 11:15 am

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) invited members of the public to the event, where they were provided with battery operated tea lights to place on the graves of the fallen which was then followed by a short service of Remembrance.

Local Sea and Air Cadets took part in the service with a choir of carol singers and a message was read out on behalf of his Worship Andy Foster, Mayor of Wellington, New Zealand which thanked local people for their commitment to honour the lives and sacrifice of the New Zealand airmen buried at the site.

The event was the inspiration behind local woman Benji Walker who had seen images of the CWGC cemeteries in Europe lit by candlelight.

She said: “The Candlelit Christmas Remembrance is a chance for the local community to gather to remember the sacrifice of the hundreds of CWGC casualties buried at Stonefall, many of them thousands of miles from home.

“I am delighted so many people attended to pay their respects and to mark the sacrifice of these brave heroes.”

With more than 1,000 Commonwealth war graves, Harrogate’s Stonefall Cemetery is one of the largest CWGC sites in the North of England.

Elizabeth Smith, CWGC Public Engagement Coordinator, said: “The Commonwealth War Graves Commission cares for 170,000 war graves from both World Wars.

“The Air Force plot at Stonefall Cemetery is unique in the North of England due to its size and resemblance to our sites overseas.

“At the end of the Second World War, local people were encouraged to adopt the war graves of the Canadian servicemen and lay wreaths on behalf of their families at Christmas and it is wonderful to see, more than 70 years on, that the people of Harrogate continue to remember the fallen from across the Commonwealth.”

Benji, who has a son servicing in the Yorkshire Regiment, also used the event to raise money for the Commonwealth War Graves Foundation and Help for Heroes.

Over £300 has been raised and members of the public can still sponsor a candle with the profits being split between the two charities.

The event was the inspiration behind local woman Benji Walker who had seen images of the CWGC cemeteries in Europe lit by candlelight.

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