A Church of England parish in Preston, Lancashire is reaching back into history using a novel way of engaging with local people on the run-up to Remembrance Day this weekend.
The parish of St Michael and All Angels, Ashton-on-Ribble with St Mark, Preston is marking the Centenary of the end of the First World War with a variety of activities aimed at involving the whole community.
This Friday, November 9, the parish will be holding a special event to honour over two hundred Ashton men who were killed in the war.
The service will be based on research carried out by local historian, Janet Davis, and will include their stories, the songs they sang and readings from poetry and letters home.
To maximise interest and attendance at the service, parishioners have identified where all the fallen men lived and have been visiting the current residents, asking them to display a special window sticker designed by church member, Nikki Walmsley and inviting them to attend Friday’s service.
Where houses have been demolished in the century since, a wooden poppy cross will be placed in the ground on a prayer walk led by Vicar, Canon Andrew Evans.
Meanwhile parishioner Dr Susan Salt is busy embroidering a banner with the names of the men on the parish memorial, all radiating out from a central poppy motif. This banner will be used as an altar frontal on Remembrance Sunday.
Speaking on behalf of the church, Rev Canon Andrew Evans said today: 'This lay-led project shows how much the community of Ashton, along with other areas of Preston, suffered grievous loss during the War. We remember our fallen with deep respect and gratitude.”
The parish is aware that there are veterans from recent conflicts who do not feel able to attend formal Remembrance ceremonies and so it will also keep the church open during the afternoon for quiet reflection and remembrance.
Meanwhile the parish has also been awarded 20 ‘There But Not There’ perspex silhouettes by the Armed Forces Covenant Trust Fund. These will be placed at different points in church to represent the oldest and youngest fallen, brothers, neighbours and workmates.
In doing so the parish joins several other churches across the Diocese of Blackburn (The Church of England in Lancashire) including Blackburn Cathedral, which are participating in the national ‘There But Not There’ initiative.
‘There But Not There’ involves installing the specially designed silhouettes in buildings to represent soldiers who lost their lives in World War One.