Fes­ti­val ex­ceeded ex­pec­ta­tions

Car park­ing area had to be ex­panded as crowds flocked to event held to com­mem­o­rate the on­set of World War I

Aldershot News & Mail - - THE FIRST WORLD WAR -

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.

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