Nottinghamshire remembered the sacrifices made by people locally and globally during the Great War yesterday (Tuesday, 6 November), whilst reaffirming its commitment to support the armed forces community of today.
The First World War was one of the deadliest and most barbaric conflicts in human history, claiming the lives of up to 19 million people, including more than 14,000 soldiers, sailors, air crew and civilians from Nottinghamshire.
To honour and pay tribute to those killed, wounded and the millions of family members impacted, Nottinghamshire County Council and Southwell Minster hosted a special centenary commemoration event at the Minster yesterday afternoon.
Guests included the Nottinghamshire Lord-Lieutenant, Sir John Peace, The Chairman of Nottinghamshire County Council, Councillor Sue Saddington, The Lord Mayor of Nottingham, Councillor Liaqat Ali and The Dean of Southwell Minster, Nicola Sullivan.
They were joined by members of both the British and German armed forces and children from both countries.
As part of the service, Colonel David Sneath TD DL read two of the favourite texts of Captain Albert Ball – a celebrated fighter pilot from Nottingham killed in 1917, awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery in the skies.
And the Rt. Revd Tony Porter conducted a ‘Dedication of Footballs’ to be used at the Games of Remembrance matches in Nottingham on Thursday 8 November. Players from both the British Army and German Army teams also attended.
The Games consist of two football matches that see the British Army play the German Armed Forces. The Armed Forces Women’s teams will play at Notts County with a kick off time of 12:00. Nottingham Forest will host the Men’s match on the same evening with a kick off at 19:00. The Games are an opportunity to pay respect to the many men and women, civilian and military, who lost their lives during the war and also signify the strong bonds which now exist between the two nations.
Councillor Kay Cutts MBE, Leader of Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “The Great War was an horrific conflict which claimed the lives of up to 19 million people and impacted countless more. It is vital that we not only remember them and express gratitude for the sacrifices they made, but also that we and future generations learn from the terrible suffering those conflicts caused.
“I am pleased that as well as remembering those who sacrificed their lives for their country, we have also refreshed our commitment to the forces family of today by committing our continued support for those who serve, veterans and their families in recognition of the sacrifices they make on behalf of our country.”
The Dean of Southwell, the Very Revd Nicola Sullivan, said: “Remembrance Sunday has become more meaningful over the last few years, especially among the young who instinctively understand why we need to join with others to pause and remember those who lost their lives or were wounded mentally and physically by war.
“This year carries deeper memories for our nation, marking the Centenary of the Armistice and the Minster will be a focus for reflection and prayers for peace.”
Following the service, representatives of all Nottinghamshire local authorities signed the Armed Forces Covenant, a commitment from the nation that those who serve or who have served and their families are treated fairly. The Covenant is not designed to give the Armed Forces, Veterans and their families’ preferential treatment compared with other citizens, but it should ensure that they get a fair deal and are not disadvantaged because of their service.
John Wilson, East Midlands Regional Employer Engagement Director for the Ministry of Defence, said: “It’s fantastic that the councils have chosen to re-affirm their commitment to the armed forces community at such an important event.
“It is a sign of success that Nottinghamshire local authorities have re-signed the Covenant and are re-committing their support to our armed forces. It recognises the great value placed in our Armed Forces and reinforces the excellent relationships we have built upon for the benefit of our serving members, their families and our proud veterans.”
All money raised from the event will be given to Forces in the Community – a Nottinghamshire-based charity which supports veterans, reservists and their families with a wide range of issues, including employment, housing, mental health and benefits, as well as raising wider awareness of the challenges they face.