At a ceremony this evening, Lesley Legge, Marilyn Badcock, and Julie Mayhew-Archer were made Honorary Freewomen of the Town of Abingdon.
Before the ceremony the Mayor of Abingdon watched dancing by the Mr Hemmings Abingdon Traditional Morris Dancers
and the Abingdon Traditional Morris Dancers. This is only the second time they have danced together.
The ceremony took the form of a council meeting on stage in the Abbey Hall.
Two people gave speeches saying why the ladies should be given the highest honour Abingdon Town has to give. Each recipient made a declaration of office, and was given a medal and scroll by the Mayor of Abingdon.
Sir Hugo Brunner, Freeman of the Town, then welcomed Lesley, Marilyn, and Julie to the Freedom of Abingdon.
After the ceremony people shook hands with the Freewomen.
The first Freeman of Abingdon was John Morland in 1922. The first Freewoman of Abingdon was Dr Joan Harcourt-Norris in 1988. There have been more men than women given this honour. This evening’s ceremony created the 3rd, 4th and 5th Abingdon Freewomen.
All three have served on the town council and other councils. They have all been Mayor, and been very active in community groups. Reverend Charles Miller who led the opening and the closing prayers at the ceremony said their service to the community is an example to us all.
Remembrance Sunday is the second Sunday of November and ceremonies are held throughout the country in churches, cenotaphs and war memorials.
We had a knock on the door at 8 am, a reminder that our car was parked on the route of the parade and needed moving. It was chilly out.
At 10:15 dignitaries paraded from the Guildhall to St Helen’s Church, and after a service inside joined the crowd of people already standing round the war memorial in the Square shortly before 11am.
They were joined at both services by soldiers from Dalton Barracks, who not only join the community at Abingdon but send teams to ceremonies round the region.
Many different uniformed groups took part. On Remembrance Sunday, Scouts are expected to attend and give the troop priority over their other Sunday sporting activities.
So at 11 Abingdon paused to pay its respects to those who lost their lives in conflict. The ‘Last Post’ was played by Abingdon Town Band member, Alison Rich, to mark the start of the two minute silence at 11. She then sounded the ‘Reveille’. After which The Deputy Lord-Lieutenant, Mrs Felicity Dick; the Mayor of Abingdon, Councillor Jan Morter; MP for Abingdon and Oxford West, Layla Moran, the Royal British Legion and many other organisations laid wreaths of red poppies at the memorial.
The poppy is the symbol of the Day of Remembrance because many years ago poppies grew from the the choppy earth where troops had fallen.
Remembering is the process of ‘Bringing the past into the present’… But who now can remember what it was like to live in the trenches of WWI? Only through war poetry have those memories become part of our collective consciousness …
Do you remember the dark months you held the sector at Mametz–
The nights you watched and wired and dug and piled sandbags on parapets?
Do you remember the rats; and the stench
Of corpses rotting in front of the front-line trench–
And dawn coming, dirty-white, and chill with a hopeless rain?
(lines from a poem by Siegfried Sassoon called Aftermath)
Finally there is a march along the High Street to the County Hall. People, who could not squeeze into the Square,cheered as the band, the troops and uniformed groups marched by.
One innovation this year, and a sign of the times after recent terrorist attacks by vehicles driven into crowds, was that a tractor, and land rover were parked at strategic points – as crash barriers.
This morning the annual civic service took place at St Helen’s Church.
An array of civic dignitaries set off from the Guildhall towards the church led by the maces of Abingdon-on-Thames and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. The Mayor of Abingdon for 2017-18, Councillor Jan Morter, was accompanied by the Mayor of Kensington and Chelsea, and other dignatories including up to 18 members of Abingdon Town Council. There is an ancient connection between Kensington and the Abbey of Abingdon dating back to the 1100s. The civic connection was revived in the 1950s, and Mayors now take it in turns to attend each other’s civic service.