The National Service of Remembrance 2017

The National Service of Remembrance 2017
Sunday, the 12th November dawned a damp, cold morning, but undeterred 20 members of the association met on Horse Guards Parade in order to pay their respects to those servicemen who gave their lives for us. Headquarters, East Kent, East Hants & Central London Branches were all represented, and I know that North Kent and the North of Scotland Branches were involved in commemorations local to them.
Once again, three generations of one family were in attendance to pay their respects. Maureen Hanlan, our treasurer, her niece Joanne Lewis and her Great Nephew Tommy Lewis aged 7, who proudly wore his late Great Grandfather Charles Hanlan’s medals. Charles was a member of Cheam Branch.
This year we were led by Andrew Marks (Ex R.E.M.E.) and a member of East Hants Branch. Andrew managed to “knock us into shape” and ensured that we kept to the regulation 6 abreast and 100 paces a minute (a slow pace for Andrew who is used to the standard 120 paces per minute).
At 11a.m. the chimes of Big Ben rang out clearly from the Elizabeth Tower. A reminder of the hour peace came 99 years ago. All those present joined in the short service which was led by the Dean of Her Majesty’s Chapels Royal (the former Bishop of London). After the Royal Family and the dignitaries had paid their respects and left Whitehall, we waited for the march past to begin.
This year we were in the first column to march off, so by 11.45 we were on the move, listening carefully to Andrew’s instructions, ensuring that we all had “eyes left” when passing the Cenotaph. We were helped to keep in step by having one of the Guards bands quite close to us. I have attended this service every year since 2007 and the advice given by Frank Horn (former East Kent Chairman) in 2007 echoed in my head – listen to the drum beat and start with the left foot. In no time at all, we were almost at Horse Guards Parade and ready for the “eyes right” to acknowledge the salute which this year was taken by HRH Prince Edward. Once back on Horse Guards Parade, we awaited the arrival of all the other groups.
As always, to participate in this event is a very humbling occasion. I am sure that many of you watched the coverage on BBC. Sadly, this year they did not mention our Association specifically, but they showed live footage of us marching along Whitehall. At the end of the broadcast, David Dimbleby mentioned that the youngest participant was 7 – (Tommy Lewis). Tommy behaved impeccably during the day and was a credit to his family. We hope that those of you who represented the Association did you proud.
Once the parade was dismissed, we all went our separate ways. Some to visit the Field of Remembrance, others to find a good place for lunch and some to catch their trains’ home, but all remembering the sacrifices that were made for them by servicemen and women past and present.
Sheila Edwards