South Ribble War Memorial officially unveiled on Armistice Day
A stunning tribute to South Ribble’s First World War heroes has been officially unveiled in the grounds of St Catherine’s Park in a moving ceremony on Armistice Day.
The new war memorial remembers 686 men who died serving their country in the Great War, and is located at the far end of the park which is being created by joining up the hospice grounds with parkland owned by South Ribbble Borough Council.
The service was attended by families of the men and some of Lancashire’s highest-ranking dignitaries, along with colleagues from St Catherine’s Hospice.
Led by Mayor of South Ribble Councillor Mary Green, the service included readings by Vice Lord Lieutenant of Lancashire Colonel Alan Jolley and Wellfield High School head girl Chloe Juniper, as well as a number of hymns.
Wreaths were laid and bugler Darryl Cartwright from the Royal British Legion played the last post. The poignant ceremony was brought to a close by the City of Preston Pipes and Drums.
“The service was incredibly humbling,” said Mayor of South Ribble Councillor Mary Green.
“These men made the ultimate sacrifice for their country and it was wonderful to see civic leaders from across the county coming together and paying their respects. We wanted to create the best memorial ever. The public have already taken this wonderful memorial to their hearts and I very much hope it becomes a South Ribble landmark.””
Click here to watch a short film of the service.
Standing at 40ft tall near to the Stanifield Lane roundabout, the monument will serve as a poignant reminder of the ultimate sacrifice that the brave men and their families made for our freedom.
Although more than 50 separate war memorials exist in churches around the borough, the new monument is the first borough-wide memorial.
Stephen Greenhalgh, Chief Executive of St Catherine’s Hospice, said: “We are delighted to be part of such an important local project which recognises the sacrifices made by so many local people during World War One.
“Dedicating the striking sculpture on Armistice Day was particularly poignant, and it was a privilege for colleagues to stand alongside the relatives of those remembered on the memorial.
“St Catherine’s Hospice has been inspired by local people for local people and, over the last 30 years, has become a symbol of what can be achieved when we come together to help those who need us. This WW1 Memorial project epitomises our remembrance of the ultimate sacrifice that so many made a century ago, and re-enforces our commitment to stand alongside each other in times of need.
“The grounds of St Catherine’s, now known as St Catherine’s Park, are a place for reflection, contemplation and celebration of the lives of loved ones. The connecting footpath and gateway to the WW1 Memorial which are currently being developed will help us all to reflect on the terrible losses of the Great War and, on a personal level, to contemplate how we can support one another through the loss of loved ones.
“We are most grateful to South Ribble Borough Council for the opportunity to join with them in this meaningful project, and to Longridge & North Preston and Preston South Rotary Clubs for their part in providing a beautiful footbridge that will help patients and visitors alike.
“The Mill café and St Catherine’s Park is an inspirational place where local people can enjoy being together, remember loved ones and celebrate life. All are warmly welcomed.”
The memorial, designed by South Ribble Borough Council regeneration officers and made by local company DP Structures in Nelson, was craned into place and welded together on-site earlier this month.
It is made of a thick steel alloy with a rusted appearance and has a cut-out silhouette of a soldier with head bowed, a large poppy, and the word ‘remember’ emblazoned across it.
Inscribed inside, visible to those standing in the peace garden behind the memorial, are the names of the soldiers, including Bamber Bridge’s Corporal John McNamara, who was awarded the Victoria Cross. They were compiled by local historian Charlie O’Donnell, who has spent the last 18 months trawling through military records, archives and old photographs to trace the men.
Pat Hewitt, of Brownedge Road, Lostsock Hall, whose grandfather Joseph Pearson appears on the monument, attended the ceremony with husband Jim.
She said: “This memorial is incredibly important for the people of South Ribble, especially for those of us whose relatives are remembered here as it gives us a place to visit. Young people can see this memorial and appreciate the sacrifice these men made. It is very poignant.”
The memorial and peace garden will form part of the greater St Catherine’s Park, due to be opened to the public in summer 2016, in a joint project between South Ribble Borough Council and the hospice.
With thanks to photographer Mike Johnson for the use of some of his images of the memorial shown in our gallery.
Share with your friends!