A group of local business people with armed-services backgrounds are understood to be in discussion with the members of the British Legion regarding proposals to revise and “re-launch” Penarth’s traditional Remembrance Sunday ceremony.
The veterans – including prominent local ex-commando Kevin Halborg – are concerned about what they see is a gradual decline in the ceremony and are now drawing-up fresh proposals, in association with members of the Royal British Legion, which will present a new “vision” and format for the important event .
The current Remembrance Sunday parade normally begins with the assembly of the procession at Station Approach.
This involves a detachments of Army, HMS Cambria, RAFA, ex-military veterans, British Legion members, local councillors, police, RNLI, Coastguard, Scouts and local schools and representatives of various local organisations – with colours – at Station Approach.
There used to be a British Legion silver band to lead the parade, but in recent years it has not been possible to arrange this .
Now in the absence of a military band – the parade marches to beat of a single drum – via Stanwell Road to the Garden of Remembrance at Rectory Road where the “Last Post” is sounded, the two-minutes’ silence is observed followed by an official wreath-laying ceremony by the leaders of local organisations and civic dignitaries.
It’s never been satisfactorily explained why the ceremony is now carried out in the cramped Garden of Remembrance rather than at Penarth’s impressive main War Memorial in Alexandra Gardens .
The Alexandra Gardens memorial was designed by the noted architect Sir William Goscombe John, and unveiled on November 11th 1924.
It was subsequently updated to include the fallen of WW2 and Korean War casualties and is the most complete record in existence of Penarth’s fallen.
The names of all three of Penarth’s recipients of the Victoria Cross are listed on the monument .
In contrast, the Garden of Remembrance was originally established in 1934 to provide a place where the families of those who have given their lives for their country could leave individual tributes to their loved ones – and was never designed to be the venue for the main wreath-laying ceremony.
The Garden of Remembrance was re-developed in 2010 with a revised lay-out following an initiative by Penarth Civic Society. The single small memorial stone bears no names – only the words of Laurence Binyon’s poem “For the Fallen”.
Older British Legion members to whom PDN has spoken say they cannot remember why it is that the wreath laying no longer takes place – as it used to do – at the main War Memorial in Alexandra Gardens – and there seems to be no record of why the venue was switched to the Garden of Remembrance.
Scores of members of the public, and many who participate in the procession, now have to resort to standing on Rectory Road and most cannot see the actual wreath-laying ceremony taking place.
Tony Phillips of the Penarth Branch of the Royal British Legion has said the Legion has been using the “Garden of Remembrance” for the formal Remembrance Sunday wreath-laying for as long as he has been a member. He believes it would have been a decision of the branch committee to move the commemoration ceremony from the Alexandra Park memorial to Rectory Road, many years ago.
Mr Phillips has told PDN “I was amazed myself. As far as I am concerned, the War Memorial is down in Alexandra Park “ . He speculates that the decision might have had something to do with the “old-timers and the distance of the walking ” .
The current pattern of the Penarth Remembrance Sunday commemoration has the main parade then marching to All Saints Church for a formal service. This service used to take place at St Augustine’s Church but the venue was changed because parade marchers found it easier to march on “level ground”.
It’s understood that proposals for the new changes and developments in the Penarth Remembrance Sunday commemoration will be announced by Mr Halborg and his colleagues shortly .