Grantham remembers First World War heroes with rousing concert

St John's Choir and Belvoir Wassailers in the Grantham Remembers concert. Photo: 0281A
St John's Choir and Belvoir Wassailers in the Grantham Remembers concert. Photo: 0281A
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More than 170 people attended the Grantham Remembers Commemorative Concert at St John’s Church on Saturday.

The concert programme took people from the pre-war Summer of August 1914 to the heart of war and remembrance.

Project team leader Charmaine Morgan said: “A trip to Grantham Library was the inspiration for our activities. When I realised the huge scale of involvement Grantham had in WW1, I realised there had to be a proper recognition of what happened. Hundreds of thousands of men throughout the war trained here before going to the Front and they took part in some of the most dangerous and costly conflicts on the Somme and Gallipoli. Thousands of those men never returned.

“The level of support from our community for Grantham Remembers Commemorative Launch Week has been wonderful.”

Grantham Remembers teamed up with other groups including Grantham Canal Society and Grantham Dramatic Society, St Johns Church, St Johns Choir and Belvoir Wassailers, the Royal British Legion and the Borneo and Malaya Veterans.

Mrs Morgan said: “It has been a pleasure to work with so many people. The Reverend David Shenton did a great job as compere for our concert. Pianist Jenny Walker had to write special musical arrangements. Musical Director Elaine Bishop was incredible with fabulous singing by both choirs. Geoff Winters’ exquisite choral version of ‘They shall not grow old...’ was performed by St John’s Choir. The soloists at the concert were fabulous with special thanks to Jo Toomey, Carol Drury, Ray Batty, Shelley Wilson, Jonathan Miller, Elaine Bishop and Adam Bishop.

Chris Standen from King’s School was superb on the trumpet and there were charming performances by girls from Barrowby School, Abigail Sharpe, Teigan Douse, Hope Morgan and from Huntingtower School, Liberty Cant.

Representatives were there from all local Armed Forces based at Prince William of Gloucester Barracks and RAF Cranwell - the Royal Navy, Army and Air Force, together with the concert’s military adviser Richard Titley (Major Retd).

Councillor Jeff Thompson read the Declaration of War and poetess Val O’Dell read a piece of her own. Malcolm Knapp gave a moving rendition of ‘The Poppy’. Throughout the performances, dozens of Grantham Remembers volunteers helped along with friends and family. LIVES provided First Aid support and with Paul Robb and Nobby Clarke there was further support from the Army Cadets.

Mrs Morgan added: “I have to give personal thanks to everyone involved and especially Grantham Remembers Project Team members Patsy Ellis, Richard Titley (Major Retd), Dave McCardy, Mike Bailey, Malcolm Baxter, Rosemary Bishop and Peter Reichelt, who have given continued and tireless support to this project for months and throughout exhibition week. Angela Shields and all the archivists, including The Journal, should also be thanked for recording the events a century ago. It was fitting to hold the concert in the lovely setting of St John’s Church where a Roll of Honour gives testament to the sacrifice made. We are indebted to all who served and who serve.”

Grantham Remembers are now planning to launch a book and go on the road with its exhibition to reach even more people.

The exhibition at the George Centre, held during the week before the concert, had over 1,400 visitors. There were guest speakers Malcolm Baxter and Malcolm Knapp and music provided by Elsham Singers and The Empire Strikes back. Living historians ‘Lest We Forget’ and ‘The Territorials’ shared their knowledge and equipment.

Mrs Morgan said: “Grantham Remembers were delighted at the level of support shown by visitors, sponsors and supporters during the WW1 Centenary Commemorations.

“LCC provided technical support and Big Society funding. SKDC provided Box Office, promotional support and loaned equipment. The George Centre staff bent over backwards to accommodate us. Sponsors Robert Holland, Grantham Estates and John and Jenny Cussell provided funding for some key items including the WW1 plane. Thompson & Richardson Insurance Brokers and Grantham Carnival & Events provided helpful back up support. Local organisations and businesses rallied round the exhibition including the NFU, Notions Antiques, Pizza Express and Grantham College all loaning equipment or providing material.”

Patsy Ellis, who co-ordinated visits to the exhibition, said: “It was great to have visits from Avery Lodge, St Mary’s School, Stepping Stones Nursery and National School who joined us. Many thanks to the teachers and helpers who organised this.”

Many people took the chance to leave a message to the fallen, taking part in the Everyman Remembered Project.