Bathed in warm sunshine on a glorious Sunday afternoon, part of Woodbridge came to a standstill as the standards of The Royal British Legion paraded through the town on their way to the Parish Church of St. Mary’s on the Market Hill. The occasion, on July 11th, was the annual County Rally, when representatives from branches across Suffolk meet to remember the fallen and celebrate the Legion’s work.
As always at such ceremonies, St. Mary’s hosted this event with splendid dignity and ease, masking the vast amount of detailed preparation essential to success. To the stirring sounds of The Band of the Royal British Legion, Leiston, the standard bearers marched with pride to their allotted places, flags held high. Their colours, together with those reflected through the stunning stained glass windows in St. Mary’s, created a wonderful sight.
The service was led by the Assistant Curate, Revd. Paul Hambling, with readings by Mr. C. Hawkins, Chairman of The Royal British Legion, Suffolk County, and Mrs. P. Scott, Chairman of The Women’s Section, Suffolk. The band and church choir led the singing of well known hymns, including the Hymn of Remembrance, ‘O Valiant Hearts’.
The Revd. Canon Kevan McCormack, Rector of St. Mary’s, delivered a short but most appropriate address, referring to the experiences and memories of the older members of the congregation, and to the commitment and offering of the young people present who are the Legion’s future. In his familiar style, Kevan suggested three words on which to focus our thoughts: respect, brotherhood and love. In our world today, with our growing awareness of the dangers of conflict and sacrifices made by service men and women, it was suggested that respect for The Royal British Legion and its work would grow. Referring to his own connections with Rock Barracks and 23 Engineer Regiment (Air Assault), Kevan spoke of the warm comradeship which the troops feel for each other as they face deployment to Afghanistan in September. There is, he said, an unspoken willingness to give one’s own life for the sake of a fellow soldier. The supreme sacrifice is one of love.
After the service, an inspection of standards took place on the church drive, followed by the laying of wreaths at the war memorial. Refreshments for uniformed members and guests were served in St. John’s Church Hall and these were much appreciated on such a very warm afternoon.
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