Tameside residents are being asked to remember in their hearts and in their homes rather than at a war memorial this year.
Government restrictions and the ongoing need to contain the spread of covid-19 have made it impossible to organise the traditional parades and ceremonies. However, that doesn’t mean the sacrifices made by British forces in two world wars and other conflicts are being forgotten.
As usual, the Civic Mayor will lay a wreath on behalf of the borough at Ashton War Memorial, and wreaths will also be laid in other parts of the borough. None of these will feature more than six guests – invited by the Mayor’s office in consultation with the Royal British Legion – and there will be no bands or processions.
Tameside Council appreciates some members of the public will want to lay wreaths, and they are able to do so but they are strongly urged to avoid 11am on either Remembrance Sunday (November 8) or Armistice Day (November 11).
Instead, they are asked to find a time between November 8 and 11 to pay their respects quietly and while adhering to covid-19 social-distancing guidelines. The borough has many memorials that were built by smaller communities and are away from town centres where the main ceremonies take place.
A national service will be broadcast on Remembrance Sunday which people can watch from home. They are also encouraged to make a poppy to display in their window as a sign of their support for the occasion.
The Civic Mayor of Tameside, Cllr Janet Cooper, said: “Remembrance Sunday is an emotional time of year and I can fully understand why people want to gather at one of our war memorials. So many of us have relatives who served in the forces and especially in the two world wars.
“Sadly, the pandemic and the chance of spreading infection prevents us from gathering as we would wish to. The coronavirus is an enemy we can’t ignore, and as those people who fought in wars would tell you, you have to respect your enemy and not provide him with an easy victory.
“As Civic Mayor it will be my great honour to lay a wreath on behalf of everyone connected with Tameside. Our fallen will not be forgotten.”
The executive leader of Tameside Council, Cllr Brenda Warrington, added: “While we would naturally want to salute our forces in the usual way, accompanied by bands and parades, I believe the most important elements of remembrance are our personal feelings.
“When we take part in a service or ceremony, we all have our own thoughts and reflections, and those will be with us as much if we pay our respects and observe the two minutes’ silence from home. Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day are in no way demeaned by the lack of ceremonial. In fact, I feel they will be more poignant.
Please avoid our war memorials at 11am. If you want to lay a wreath, do so alone and at a quieter time.”