Communities move online to commemorate Remembrance Sunday

A poppy attached to the pocket of a black denim jacketWith the usual Remembrance Sunday celebrations cancelled, communities have found their own way of commemorating the day.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of world war two and local communities are having to take a different approach to Remembrance Sunday.

Instead of the usual Remembrance Sunday parade, Leeds City Council and The Royal British Legion are encouraging people to commemorate the day from home.

Instead of gathering for a parade, people are being asked to observe the Two Minute Silence on their doorstep and watch the TV coverage of the Festival of Remembrance and service at the Cenotaph.

The Poppy Factory usually organises the Field of Remembrance in Westminster Abbey but this year The Royal British Legion has set up a virtual Field of Remembrance for people to make and view tributes online.

Many people have come up with their own creative ways to commemorate the Armed Forces community from home such as creating their own poppies and displaying them in their windows.

Sam Griffiths is among those getting creative this year to help raise money for The Royal British Legion. 

Through a raffle on her shop, The Seaside Sewist, Sam has been able to raise £102 for the Royal British Legion.

“I do it because my Grandad was a prisoner of war back in the day, my dad and my brother were also in the Navy, so I’ve got a meaning to remember.” said Griffiths.

“If I can spend a couple of hours making things, it’s nothing compared to what some people gave and continue to give.”

Bunting made from felt poppies, embroidered with the words lest we forget
Sam Griffiths has made bunting as well as poppy coasters for Remembrance Day.

Churches have also had to take an innovative approach to their usual Remembrance Sunday services.

Their virtual service will include messages from members of the church congregation, the relatives of those who fought in the war and incorporate both the church’s usual service and the ceremony at the local war memorial.

Matthew Peat, Vicar at St Mary’s Church, said: “We’ve got a chance to do things slightly different this year and use the two locations we’ve got. This year, we’ve pre-recorded the service. The act of Remembrance will be streamed just before 11am.

“When it comes to the ‘we will remember them’, we have invited members of our congregation to all submit a short bit of video footage of them saying ‘we will remember them’. So we’re hoping to put that together as a patchwork with multiple faces on the screen.”

Since lockdown first began in March, St Mary’s Church in Whitkirk have been trying to create new ways of engaging their members as they could not attend physical services.

St Mary’s have moved their service online with members being able to tune into a live stream or dial in to hear the service in addition to a podcast.

“It’s about saying ‘OK, this is not great, this is not how we might want it but there are opportunities with this stuff as well as there are challenges” said Peat.

“I hope that what we’ve done, not just on Sunday but over the last few weeks and months as we’ve learned more about it is to make the most of that opportunity. There are challenges for the church but there are opportunities too.”

The Royal British Legion is also encouraging people to donate online as they may not be able to buy a poppy in local shops like they usually would.

Charles Byrne, The Royal British Legion’s Director General, said: “Remembrance is a unique time in the year when people from all communities, cultures and ages come together and pay tribute to the service and sacrifice of our Armed Forces community, past and present.

“This year, however, we can’t stand together at Remembrance services and therefore the Legion is urging people to participate remotely and visually show their support by placing a poppy in their window, or standing on their doorstep for the Two Minute Silence.”

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