Royal British Legion defends Â£400,000 plans to light up Harrogate's war memorial and Royal Hall
Last week, the Harrogate Advertiser backed a Â£400,000 campaign which would see the town's war memorial and Royal Hall floodlit in a permanent tribute to the fallen.
A donation of Â£5,000 has already been pledged in memory of two men who are named on the war memorial.
The Royal Hall Restoration Trust has joined forces with the newly-formed Harrogate and District Improvement Trust to run the project, and a public appeal will be launched in November to raise funds for the war memorial and the Royal Hall to be tastefully floodlit at night.
Branches of the Royal British Legion from across the district have defended the plans, after criticism from some readers who feel that the money could be spent in a better way.
One reader commented on the Harrogate Advertiser’s Facebook page: “As much as I think this is a fabulous idea, I would rather the money got spent on things to better Harrogate - on roads, helping businesses stay in business, and more police officers.”
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Another said: “It’s a nice idea, but far too much money.”
David Houlgate of Knaresborough’s branch of the Royal British Legion, said: “We have got to remember what we are remembering, and why.
“The ultimate sacrifice that previous generations made has in effect allowed and enabled people to complain about things.
“They have got a right to complain about it, but it’s a good way of commemorating the centenary of the end of the First World War.
“Having the memorial floodlit would raise public consciousness around Remembrance and ensure that future generations never forget.”
Russell Davidson, pictured below, who chairs The Royal Hall Restoration Trust, and the newly-formed Harrogate and District Improvement Trust, said: “The Â£400,000 would be a small price to pay to remember those who paid the ultimate price and made the ultimate sacrifice. I hope that Harrogate will get behind the project.”
Lynne Mee, of the Royal Hall Restoration Trust, added: “The Royal Hall and the war memorial are both such beautiful structures.
“The war memorial is a big focus for Remembrance - people come to see their loved one’s names on the memorial.
“What a beautiful spectacle it would be to see the memorial and the Royal Hall floodlit. You have got to think big sometimes, otherwise things won’t happen.”
The floodlighting appeal will be formally launched at the I Was Glad Parry Centenary Concert at the Royal Hall on November 15. The Royal Hall Restoration Trust and Harrogate and District Improvement Trust will be looking to raise funds for the project through applying for grants, and inviting residents to donate and support the scheme. The project has already been given a financial boost by Harrogate Borough Council through support of a feasibility study.
The Chairman of Harrogate’s Royal British Legion branch, Michael Comerford, said: “I think it is a brilliant idea.
“I think people walking and driving through the town centre will see the memorial lit up and reflect on the importance of Remembrance throughout the year.”
Mr Davidson said months of planning have culminated in some stunning creative designs for the project.
He said: “A number of specialist professionals have given their time and expertise, including Chartered Landscape Architect and Urban Designer Peter Owens, winner of the Landscape Institute’s award for best large scale development, for the Royal Stoke University Hospital.
“Also working on the project are Stainton Lighting, whose past projects include Middlesborough’s war memorial and the Durham Cathedral and Castle World Heritage Site.
“This is a very important year as it marks the centenary of the end of the First World War; the centenary of women first getting the vote; the centenary of the death of Sir Hubert Parry, who conducted the Royal Hall’s opening concert in 1903; and the 10th anniversary of the restoration of the Royal Hall.
“What better way for Harrogate to mark these important dates than to light up these cherished landmarks?” Mr Davidson said a full planning application for the project will be submitted in October, but a planning consultation is already under way.
A JustGiving page for the public appeal will soon be launched by the two trusts. Join the conversation: email [email protected] to share your views on the project.