Festival exceeded expectations
Car parking area had to be expanded as crowds flocked to event held to commemorate the onset of World War I
A MILITARY pageant commemorating the start of the First World War hosted a ‘picnic at the front’ and demonstrations, while raising money for ABF The Soldiers’ Charity.
The event, last Sunday, at the Royal Logistic Corps, Deepcut, saw a jam-packed day of marching bands, guns, cavalry horses, re-enactors, songs and war poetry recited by Dame Penelope Keith, all ending with a formal drumhead service.
The fundraising day proved an even bigger success than planned, with event organisers having to extend the car park area to accommodate the 1,000 people who attended
The overall aim for everyone involved in the event’s six-month planning was to help educate members of the public about how Surrey was affected by the Great War.
Colonel Tony Ward, 75, the organiser, said: “I was more than happy with the event. It went terribly smoothly and the re-enactors were outstanding. Our hope is a number of children learned from the event, and helped put the war into context.”
Volunteers, who are still counting, have already tallied up over £2,000 in donations, including a cheque for £500 found in the dedicated donation bucket.
Richard Wyeth, breakfast show presenter for BFBS Aldershot, was the announcer on the day.
He said: “It was an excellent event by ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, Surrey Branch, giving a great insight into World War 1 in 1914 in Surrey, a slice of history and a chance to reflect and remember with the drumhead service. I was pleased to be involved as announcer, and it was fantastic to see Dame Penelope Keith supporting the event too. Let’s hope they put on another event like this in years to come.”
The drumhead service was a church service conducted “in the field” during armed conflict, often near the battlefront.
Lacking a church to attend, the military command used its drums, piled neatly and draped with appropriate colours, national or regimental flags, for example, to create an altar.
The Soldiers’ Charity began as the Army Benevolent Fund in 1944. It currently helps more than 5,200 people annually and gave out £7.9 million in grants in 201314.
Last year, the charity gave £75,000 in individual grants to support 80 cases in Surrey and £505,000 through other charities, notably Combat Stress and the Poppy Factory.
Mr Rob Thrush and Emma Shelley, of Great War Talks.
James Clare, tries on Army kit and aiming a rifle at the military pageant held by ABF The Soldiers’ Charity to commemorate the centenary of the onset of the Great War, with the event staged at Princess Royal Barracks, in Deepcut.
Mayor of Surrey Heath, Cllr Bob Paton, centre, and his wife Carol with 10th Battalion Essex Regiment re-enactors, from left, Tony Weaver, Ian Church, Hugh McCurry and bugler James Church.
Rob Thrush of the 10th Battalion Essex Regiment watches as Maisie Jenssen makes Theo Davis put ‘em up!
Adam Macaree and Harry Dugmore, of the Army Cadet Force.