Hundreds of folk gathered in the bright sunshine of a chilly November morning for Preston’s Remembrance Sunday.
The commemorations began with a military procession outside the covered markets at 10.30am followed by a civic party procession at the back of the town hall at 10.50am.
Just yards away, people congregated at the war memorial on the Flag Market for the Service of Remembrance and wreath-laying ceremony, attended by the Mayor and Mayoress of Preston, councillor Brian Rollo and Mrs Trisha Rollo, and Bishop John Goddard.
In his speech, the bishop said: “As we meet together today to remember all who have died as a result of war and terrorism, we recall the world wars and all who are still engaged in conflict and aggression at this time.”
He added; “We remember all who, from the battlefront or from terror on the streets, continue to suffer the physical and mental scars of anguish, disfigurement, lasting pain and shattered memories.”
And he said; “We give thanks for all those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in the cause of freedom and who have laid down their lives in the service of their country.
“We pray for the dead and for the bereaved and for all whose families have been devastated and their livelihoods ruined
“At this time, our hearts go out to all those who have been forced to leave their homelands and who are at the mercy and power of others as they face uncertain futures.”
The Last Post was followed by two minutes silence.
Wreaths were laid by the mayor followed by representatives of the armed services and the local and wider community.
One of those paying their respects on the day was ex-serviceman Arthur Statham, of Leyland.
Asked how he felt on the occasion he said: “The same as everybody else. Everyone has got to remember, you can’t forget, the people that have died in wars and other conflicts, it’s sad but it’s a fact of life.
“If you get wars you get people dying. They have got to be remembered. This must go on, you cannot forget.”
Arthur served in the Royal Engineers for nine years and did four tours of Northern Ireland between 1970 and 1978.
Today, as well as his own medals, he proudly wore his father’s, which included the Italy Star and France and Germany Star.
Husband and wife, Naomi and Paul McParland, both in their 40s, from Ribbleton, were there, too, this morning.
“I think it’s a really good thing. It brings everybody together in some way or form,” said Naomi.
The couple had two cadet children in the ceremony - one a ‘sleeping sentry’ on guard duty at the war memorial, the other guarding the squadron flag for the 341 City of Preston Air Cadets.
Paul said: “It’s just good for the community of Preston to have this every year. It’s needs to go on, it’s just something people look forward to, especially the cadets. It’s something they plan for much of the year.”
Naomi added; “We don’t do much for our soldiers really. This is a big thing.”
Steve Hutchinson, 58, of Preston, attended as standard bearer of the RASC and RCT Association Preston branch.
“I find it very moving because I’m ex-army,” he said.
“I remember my comrades who have fallen. It’s a very poignant service and it’s a good turn out.”
He added; “We’ve got to keep it going, even with council funding cuts. I think the council have done the best they can this year.”
Services of Remembrance took place throughout the whole of Lancashire.
Yesterday, Armistice Day service were held around the county, too.
They included the Barton, Bilsborrow and Myerscough’s annual Civic Remembrance Service in Bilsborrow Village.
At 10am the bell at Barton Parish Church tolled twenty-nine times.
From 10am until 10.30am the bells in Bilsborrow Parish Church were rung.
They were placed in the tower of the church in 1949 as a thanks offering for those who gave their lives in the Second World War.
The service itself was held at the war memorial at 10.40am.
The organisers’ distinguished guest was Brigadier Iain Robertson OBE TD DL.
Prayers were led by Mrs Anya Cross (RC) and Revd Garry Whittaker (CE).
The chairman of the trustees of the memorial, Dr Barry Johnson DL, read McCrae’s hauntingly beautiful poem In Flanders Fields, Patrick Hurley, Broughton Parish Church head chorister, sounded Last Post and Reveille on a silver bugle borrowed for the occasion from Lancashire Infantry Museum and Pipe Major Stewart Lyell played tunes on the highland bagpipes.
Barton Women’s Institute choir lead the singing of the hymn O God, our help in ages pas’ and Elizabeth Winstanley, of Claughton-on-Brock lead the singing of the national anthem.