It was an oc­ca­sion I will never for­get

Black Country Bugle - - YOUR LETTERS - By JOHN WORK­MAN

A great many of us en­joy the tele­vi­sion cov­er­age of the Royal British Le­gion Fes­ti­val of Re­mem­brance at the Royal Al­bert Hall ev­ery Novem­ber.

But what must it be like to be there in per­son? On this sig­nif­i­cant an­niver­sary, the 100th an­niver­sary of the Armistice, Jim Fletcher and his wife Pauline from Cose­ley were priv­i­leged to at­tend this most im­por­tant com­mem­o­ra­tion:

“It was back in July I suc­cess­fully ap­plied for tickets, one Le­gion mem­ber and one guest only. Two other mem­bers of Lower Gor­nal Le­gion were suc­cess­ful too, so that made a party of six, my­self and Pauline, Gra­ham and Hazel Jones and Brian and Mar­i­lyn Woodall.

“We left Birm­ing­ham New Street with great an­tic­i­pa­tion and ar­rived at Eus­ton in Lon­don mid morn­ing. The num­ber 10 bus to South Kens­ing­ton took us via plenty of Lon­don sights, al­though we had been no­ti­fied that parts of the route would be al­tered due to height­ened se­cu­rity. But this turned out ben­e­fi­cial to us as we had plenty of time on our hands and saw even more of the city. Re­gents Park, May­fair, Har­rods, The Ritz, and as we passed Hyde Park on the way to Knights­bridge a troupe of House­hold Cav­alry passed by, all dressed in crim­son cloaks, wear­ing gleam­ing sil­ver hel­mets and sit­ting astride their beau­ti­ful black mounts. It was a spec­tac­u­lar im­age.

“On our ar­rival at the Royal Al­bert Hall we were met by heav­ily armed po­lice and ev­ery­one at­tend­ing was sub­ject to a se­cu­rity search in­clud­ing all bag­gage, pock­ets emp­tied, photo iden­ti­fi­ca­tion and tickets verified, and then we had to pass through a full body scan­ner.

“En­ter­ing the hall it was a sight to be­hold and al­most took your breath away and we were quickly ush­ered to our seats at least half an hour be­fore the ser­vice was due to start. There are two shows on the day and we were in the first sit­ting so to speak, and al­though the Queen wasn’t in at­ten­dance dur­ing our stay, there were plenty of dukes and duchesses to fill the Royal Box.

Per­form­ers

“The Fes­ti­val be­gan with the en­try of the Stan­dards and a fan­fare by state trum­peters. BBC pre­sen­ter Huw Ed­wards was at the helm to guide us through the pro­gramme of events. All of the singing per­form­ers were ex­cel­lent and they put plenty of emo­tion into their per­for­mances. Sir Tom Jones was su­perb and I must mention Tom Fletcher and Danny Jones, Sheri­dan Smith, Sir Bryn Ter­fel, and the King­dom Choir. Dur­ing the per­for­mance by teenage cel­list Sheku Kan­nehma­son who played ‘Hal­lelu­jah’, the whole au­di­ence held up por­traits of those who had served dur­ing the Great War. This was a very mov­ing and emo­tional few min­utes.

“But then the pop­pies fell from the heav­ens. You could hear a pin drop, the only sound the swish, swish of the petals as they filled the air. Thank you Royal British Le­gion and all the ser­vice men and women, mil­i­tary and civil­ian for a day and an oc­ca­sion I will never for­get.”

Jim Fletcher and his wife Pauline out­side the Royal Al­bert Hall, Novem­ber 10 2018

Three of the thou­sands of poppy petals that fell dur­ing the Fes­ti­val of Re­mem­brance

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