On the morning of Monday 11th November I was honoured to be able to join several other dignitaries – including High Royal Highness The Duke of Kent; Mr Ian Dudson, Lord-Lieutenant of Staffordshire; Vice Admiral Chris Gardner, Chief of Materials with the Royal Navy; Major General Duncan Capps, General Office Commanding Regional Command with the Army; Air Vice Marshal Alastair Reid, Acting Surgeon General with the Royal Air Force; he Venerable Susan Weller, Archdeacon of Lichfield; the Reverend Vic Van Den Bergh, Honorary Chaplain at the NMA; and the Reverend Stella Wallace-Tween, Honorary Assistant Chaplain at the NMA – at the National Memorial Arboretum (NMA) for its Armistice Day Memorial.
We were welcomed to the memorial by Mark Ellis, Head of Visitor Experience at the Arboretum, and the beautiful voices of Lichfield Cathedral Chamber Choir, who were accompanied by the Band of the Brigade of Gurkhas. The ceremony began with The Bidding, presented by the Reverend Vic Van Den Burgh before the Venerable Dr Susan Weller conducted the Confession and Absolution.
The Reverend Vic Van Den Bergh continued with the Act of Remembrance, which was followed by The Exhortation, read by David Whimpenny, Chairman of the NMA. We all then listened to the haunting and highly emotive Last Post before laying our wreaths.
Following the hymn, Jerusalem, His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent read from John, chapter 15, versus; 9 to 17. The ceremony then continued with the Intercessions, read by the Reverend Stella Wallace-Tween, the Act of Commitment, which was led by the Reverend Vic Van Den Bergh, and the Blessing, presented by the Venerable Dr Susan Weller.
The Band of the Brigade of Gurkhas closed the ceremony with a beautiful rendition of Farewell to Arms. Those who chose to, then paraded from the Falklands Memorial, to pay their respects to the fallen.
I would like to thank the Arboretum for organising such a moving service, allowing us to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for the freedom of future generations.