Councils set out alternatives to Remembrance Services

Steve Lees in his veteran garden at St Cuthbert’s Church. Picture by John Tuttiett.Steve Lees in his veteran garden at St Cuthbert’s Church. Picture by John Tuttiett.
Steve Lees in his veteran garden at St Cuthbert’s Church. Picture by John Tuttiett.
Town councils have reluctantly announced plans to cancel their annual Remembrance Day parades due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Blyth, Ashington and West Bedlington town councils are among those who have made the decision.

Mayor of Blyth, Coun Warren Taylor said: “Blyth has a proud history and association with our armed services and it is important that we remember the sacrifices that many of our town’s men and women gave in conflicts all over the world.”

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Instead, a special video will be shown online at 11am on Sunday and Wednesday, November 11, featuring all of Blyth’s war memorials.

Ashington’s service in the town’s Memorial Garden is also off as officials said they could not put the necessary safety measures in place.

A council spokesperson said: “This very important and significant day will not however go unmarked.

"A short Remembrance Service will be pre-recorded, at the Memorial Garden, and be available online to view on Remembrance Day.”

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West Bedlington Town Council and Bedlington Churches Together have also announced that this year’s traditional Remembrance Day Service and Parade will not take place.

A council spokesperson said: “As a Town we will always remember those who endured terrible suffering, honour those who lost their lives and pay our respects.

“We would encourage organisations and individuals to pay their respects safely in their own time to protect and honour our veterans, their families, and the generations to come.

"Wreaths, Poppies and Crosses can be laid at the War Memorial, in a responsibly Socially distanced manner, at any time during Remembrance Week.”

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Residents across Northumberland are being encouraged to observe a two minute silence on their doorsteps at 11am on Sunday.

Elsewhere, a new veterans garden has been designed and built by partially sighted Steve Lees at St Cuthbert’s Church, in Blyth.

Steve said: “As an ex-veteran myself, I feel like veterans are forgotten about and have to deal with a lot of things when coming out of the Army, like PTSD or homelessness, when trying to adjust to civilian life.

"It was an idea to get a place of reflection for anyone who comes into the church yard.

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"I’m very much into bees so a lot of the planters have wildflowers to attract bees, butterflies and more.

"Sitting there on a warm summer’s day watching the insects is good for your mental health and wellbeing.”

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