The people of Bognor Regis came together today(10 November) to pay homage to soldiers lost in service to Queen and Country.
Yesterday’s drizzle gave way to a bright but bracing morning for today’s ceremony, which started at 10.30am, when a parade of veterans, military associations, youth groups and significant figures marched down from Place St Maur, through St Belmont Street and down to the war memorial in the centre of town, where at 10.50am, the traditional Sunday service began.
The procession surrounded the memorial, listened to a brief sermon led by Major Matt Butler of The Salvation Army, and, at 11am, the same time the First World War Ended on November 11, 1918, fell silent, lowering their banners in memory of the fallen.
Organisations from all over Bognor took part in the ceremony. Charities - like All Call Signs - sports teams - like the Bognor Regis Football Club - and businesses, like the Picturedrome Cinema, were all involved in the parade and laid wreaths of their own.
Mayor Phill Woodall said: “It’s been a brilliant day, I’m very pleased with the turnout of the members of the public. We didn’t have any rain, which was really, really pleasing, and I loved seeing everybody turn up.”
Echoing his sentiments was Major Matt Butler, who worked with the Salvation Army for 15 years and led today’s service.
He said: “It’s a privilege to be part of a service such as today, we have been at the front line alongside those in conflict for many years, and so to be given an opportunity to be part of an important day like this was very good.”
Alongside veterans, Scout groups, the Royal British Legion and the Royal Air Force Association were Bognor’s various cadet squadrons. Youths from the Air, Army and Sea Cadets all took part in the ceremony, contributing wreaths and honorary banners.
After the initial ceremony, 2351 Bognor Regis Air Cadets, alongside the 1st South Bersted Air Scout Group, marched along the promenade and formed up on the pier for a yearly and always impressive Chinook fly over.
Speaking about the event, and the cadet’s participation, Flight Sergeant Nick Moran, commanding officer of the Bognor Regis Air Cadets said the day was “really good.
He said: “There were a good number of cadets - from all cadet forces: sea cadets, army cadets as well - and it was a good turnout. The weather was nice, for a change, which really helped us out.”
The poppy appeal, which was out in force over the course of the morning, also hailed the parade’s success.
John Haynes, The Poppy Appeal organiser and a Royal Engineer who served in The Falklands and Northern Ireland, said: “I think today went well. People were very generous with their donations and approached me to buy extra poppies. They were appreciative of people who serve and have served. As a soldier, I always appreciate when people contribute to the appeal.”
To volunteer with the Royal British Legion and support the Royal British Legion in more ways than one, contact John on 07977 536686 and ask about volunteering to sell poppies.