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THOUSANDS of people including veterans, local dignitaries and families attended the largest Remembrance service and parade in living memory last week, as the town commemorated 100 years of the end of the First World War.
Mayor of Melksham, cllr Adrienne Westbrook said that she, like everyone else, was amazed by the sheer numbers of people congregating in the Market Place, who then moved on to Church Street, for the two minutes’ silence at the war memorial in Canon Square and the Remembrance service in St Michael and all Angels’ church, which was relayed on speakers to the packed crowds outside.
She said, “The parade was bigger than ever with so many young people, serving military personnel and veterans.
“We were waiting and the crowds just kept coming. The war memorial area was bursting at the seams when the parade entered, and finding somewhere for them to stand was difficult and we just kept moving to try and find more space. The crowd fell silent, even before the two minutes’ silence at 11.00am. You could hear a pin drop, and it was a very emotional and surreal feeling.
“It was an amazing feeling to be part of such a moving occasion and once again I thank all those who helped to bring it together, but also the people of Melksham who turned out in their thousands to pay tribute.”
Deputy mayor, cllr Jon Hubbard said, “It is impossible to put into words just how proud I was on Sunday morning when so many in our community came out to join in the commemoration of the Armistice marking the end of the First World War.
“What was really fantastic was that there were people from across all of the generations taking part. Not just those in the uniformed organisations who looked so splendid in the parade, but representatives from all of the generations in family groups standing quietly and respectfully as part of the whole community paying tribute to not just those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the First War, but also those from the Second World War and every conflict that has claimed lives since, right up to the current day.”
Following the Remembrance service, the official wreath-laying ceremony took place. At the Town Hall, the Melksham Remembers group staged an exhibition of what life was like in Melksham during the First World War. The Assembly Hall also hosted a meal for townspeople and visitors following the ceremony.
Local people expressed their praise of the huge attendance at the Melksham event describing the “immense” and “fantastic turn out” as “moving.” An ex-veteran who took part in the parade said, “Melksham, you did yourselves proud.”
Please click on the picture below to view The Remembrance picture special on our digital edition.