Paying homage to town’s war dead

The memorial in Anning Road where a plaque pays tribute to the brave Polish pilots who died fighting alongside their RAF compatriots in World War II, planted out in the Polish colours of red and white

LYME Regis turned out in force yet again to honour the 100 local men who lost their lives in the two world wars.

There was a wonderful turnout for the Remembrance parade through the town and St Michael’s Parish Church was packed for the service.

The Remembrance events in Lyme are co-ordinated by the local branch of the Royal British Legion in liaison with the church and a great deal of effort goes into making sure that those men of Lyme who made the supreme sacrifice are remembered in an appropriate manner.

As well as the main parade and service on the nearest Sunday to November 11, there are also short ceremonies the day before at the memorial grave to those who lost their life when HMS Formidable was torpedoed in Lyme Bay in 1915, and at the Polish pilots war memorial in Anning Road. A wreath laying service is also held at the town war memorial in George’s Square on Armistice Day.

The service at the Polish memorial is always quite emotional. Although there was no direct connection between Lyme Regis and the Polish pilots who played such a key role in the Battle of Britain, the memorial was erected by Magna Housing many years ago after the town received a request to do so.

The town council now maintain the memorial and the Legion is grateful for the special effort they put in to ensure it is kept in good order. It contains a plaque which says: “In memory of the Polish pilots who died in World War II defending Great Britain.”

It’s tradition for the Polish national anthem to be sung at the memorial, a duty undertaken by Mrs Lavery, a former Polish nurse, who lived in Lyme for many years which is now undertaken by Ania Driver, also a former nurse who hails from Poland and is a leading member of the Royal British Legion branch committee. This year she was joined by another Polish national, Magda Witkowska, who also lives in Lyme.

As President of the Lyme branch, my duties include reciting the Exhortation at the various services and reading out the names of those from Lyme who died which are recorded in a special Roll of Honour book. It’s certainly the most important role I play in any of the organisations with which I’m connected and I take it very seriously.

When first asked to do it, I thought it would be a fairly easy task. After all, during my career I have spoken to audiences much larger than that in the parish church and I did not give it too much thought. But at that first reading of the names it suddenly occurred to me that whilst I knew none of those on the Roll of Honour, as they died before I was born, I had grown up among their children and grandchildren, familiar Lyme names, many of who were close friends.

Suddenly a wave of emotional attachment came over me and I struggled to finish reading the names. It’s far more difficult than I thought.

Since that first occasion, I try not to catch a glimpse of those in the congregation who have lost a loved one, so as not to be distracted and to make sure that I do justice to those we are honouring.

After reading the lesson, the Mayor of Lyme Regis, Councillor Brian Larcombe MBE, related a story about how his father Alan took part in the D-Day landings carrying a poem with him as he fought with the Dorsets through to the end of the war. It was very touching.

The Legion is also grateful to the Reverend Rosemary Bragg, standing in whilst a new vicar is being appointed, who conducted the service, and to Parochial Church Council member Tim Bacon who made sure things went smoothly.

It was heartening to see so many local organisations represented at the parade and service, especially the newly formed Lyme Regis Army Cadet Force who were marching in their uniforms for the first time.

The Legion were also delighted to see a few serving officers with Lyme connections leading the parade, including former Woodroffe School pupil, Royal Navy Captain Simon Petitt CBE, who has returned to the town to live.

‘Rich’ council to be less generous

WITH £1.3million in the bank, Lyme Regis Town Council is considered to be one of the richest small authorities in the South West. And it is certainly the most generous, awarding grants of somewhere in the region of £130,000 every year. But it would seem those days are coming to a close.

Lyme’s lucrative car parks are one of the reasons the council has been able to be so generous in recent times in making grants to local organisations and projects. But the council is facing some big expenditure in the coming months, including £700,000 on a replacement roof above the Amusement Arcade, SWIM and Antiques Centre on Marine Parade, which is likely to be paid from reserves rather than through borrowing.

There are also plans to refurbish the council offices in Guildhall Cottage, likely to cost another six-figure sum.

These two items alone will make a big hole in the council’s cash assets and mayor Brian Larcombe is also keen to clear the council’s existing outstanding borrowing, so there goes another £200,000 plus.

With these big costs very much in mind, councillors have agreed to reduce the amount set aside for grants to £80,000, still a generous sum compared to other councils in the locality.

Consideration is also being given to increase the precept (the amount the council receives from the council tax) by 10 per cent but that will only bring in another £12,000.

The awarding of grants has always been a difficult process with deliberations often going on for hour after hour.

Last week a meeting of the Strategy & Finance Committee did not finish until 11.40pm. Part of that meeting was taken up with local organisations making a claim for grants from the £15,000 given to the council for disturbance money by the company which made the film ‘Ammonite’ starring Kate Winslet.

In all eight groups put in a bid but the council did not have time to make a decision and decided to refer the bids to a separate meeting, which would have been a good idea in the first place.

One of the criteria put forward for part of the £15,000 was that there had to be a legacy, preferably related to Mary Anning. That being the case, there were only three applications which I felt met this criteria – a bid for £5,000 for the proposed Mary Anning statue; a proposal from the Axminster & Lyme Regis Cancer Support Group to have a dedicated beach hut for those suffering from cancer, Mary Anning having died of the disease; and the Mary Anning Scholarship Fund to support students from Lyme Regis studying the earth sciences in higher education or STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, maths).

All the applications were worthy of support but some had no connection with Mary Anning at all and to have divided the £15,000 between all eight would not be considered as genuine legacy funding. The allocation of the £80,000 allocated for local grants from the council will take place in March of next year.

New school plan creates fears over village amenities

UNLESS the planning issues over the entrance and exit to the proposed new primary school in Uplyme are resolved, there are real fears for the future of the petrol station, village stores and post office.

The loss of such facilities would be a major blow to the village but would also impact on the wider community.

Uplyme Parish Council is currently in discussion with the trust that runs the school and Devon County Highway Department in an attempt to solve the traffic issues, the main one being having just one entrance and exit which could lead to a build-up of traffic outside the petrol station, a potentially dangerous situation. It is to be hoped a solution can be found.

It is inconceivable to think that the provision of a much-needed new school could lead to the demise of the village’s only amenities.

Woodmead Halls
About Philip Evans 563 Articles
Veteran journalist and newspaper manager Philip Evans has worked in the publishing industry for more than half a century. He started out as a reporter for Pulman’s Weekly News as a young man and went on to work for an international publishing company in the UK, South Africa and Australia before returning to Lyme Regis where he is still reporting on local events as he has done for more than 53 years.

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