Thousands turn out for poignant People’s Procession at Sidmouth

PUBLISHED: 13:38 09 November 2018 | UPDATED: 17:13 09 November 2018

The People's Procession in Sidmouth. Ref shs 45 18TI 4276. Picture: Terry Ife

The People's Procession in Sidmouth. Ref shs 45 18TI 4276. Picture: Terry Ife

Archant

Silence fell over Sidmouth as nearly 4,000 people turned out to pay their respects in a poignant procession in memory of all the members of the armed forces who have lost their lives.

The People’s Procession took place in Sidmouth today (Friday) and was organised by Sidmouth Town Council, Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce and the Royal British Legion.

The march began at 10.30am from outside of the Co-op and continued down through the town, passing shops which temporarily closed to pay their respects.

Sidmouth’s police team gave a police escort in a specially decorated car, which has been covered in poppies to show Devon and Cornwall Police’s support to the Royal British Legion’s poppy appeal.

Citizen of the year Ian Skinner led the procession followed by members of the town council, Sidmouth Lifeboat, chamber of commerce, Royal British Legion, police, fire service and hundreds of school children, from the area’s primary and secondary schools.

The People's Procession in Sidmouth. Ref shs 45 18TI 4274. Picture: Terry IfeThe People's Procession in Sidmouth. Ref shs 45 18TI 4274. Picture: Terry Ife

Members of the public lined the street and joined behind as the crowd moved in silence towards the seafront to the sound of a muffled drum.

The sea of people filled out every corner of The Esplanade and turned to face France before a two minutes silence was held in memory of those who lost their lives during the conflicts.

Following The Last Post played by Sidmouth Town Band’s musical director Adrian Harvey, the crowd dispersed to place wreaths, posies and messages along the railings.

Among the tributes were hand made poppies by primary school pupils inscribed with the names of Sid Valley soldiers.

The People's Procession in Sidmouth. Ref shs 45 18TI 4272. Picture: Terry IfeThe People's Procession in Sidmouth. Ref shs 45 18TI 4272. Picture: Terry Ife

Janet Dowling attended the event with a shroud of the Somme in memory of her great uncle, who were among the fallen soldiers on first day of the Somme where 19,240 people died.

Harry served in the London Regiment, the rangers and was about 27 when he died.

She said: “This is our remembrance of him.

“I think it is fantastic, I think it is important in this time in our world that we remember what happened then and what can happen now.”

The People's Procession in Sidmouth. Ref shs 45 18TI 4269. Picture: Terry IfeThe People's Procession in Sidmouth. Ref shs 45 18TI 4269. Picture: Terry Ife

Andy Webb, from Sidbury, laid a picture of the signing of the Armistice on the railing, after discovering the artwork in a skip nearly a decade ago.

The memorabilia collector, said: “It’s important to remember and to say thank-you.”

The event was organised by Sidmouth Town Council, Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce and the Royal British Legion, following a suggestion by businessman Edward Willis-Fleming the town should do something to mark the anniversary.

Edward said: “It’s been amazing, it’s been more than one could of hoped for. Everyone has come out to pay their respects. As a town we have remembered, there are so many people who died in this town.

The People's Procession in Sidmouth. Ref shs 45 18TI 4267. Picture: Terry IfeThe People's Procession in Sidmouth. Ref shs 45 18TI 4267. Picture: Terry Ife

“This is part of three days of national remembrance and I hope we have a really good turnout on Sunday.

“It has been very much a community effort. Sylvia Brownlee [of Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce] she never gets enough crdit and the effort she has made has been incredible.”

Sunday’s remembrance parade will start at 10.30am from the Co-op.

The procession will travel down High Street, Fore Street and Church Street to the War Memorial at the Parish Church.

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