THE past week has seen the culmination of our special year of Remembrance in Lyme Regis – and what a poignant way to end it.
At the beginning of the year, a team put together by the council, involving many organisations in the town, started putting together a programme of events to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War.
The aim was to involve the whole community in the commemorations, to demonstrate the town’s gratitude to those who defended our freedom, and to help children in the community understand the realities of war and the importance of peace.
The commemorations were launched in May when Silent Soldiers appeared around the town, standing as a silent tribute to those who never returned from the war between 1914 and 1918.
Union flags lined the high street, a poppy garden was created in the Langmoor Gardens, and books with a First World War theme were donated to the three local primary schools. We also gave every pupil at the three schools a packet of poppy seeds to grow at home, and invited them to make a trench cake, a dense fruit cake which would have been sent to loved ones on the front line.
The mayor, Cllr Michaela Ellis and Ian Marshall, chairman of the Lyme Regis branch of the Royal British Legion, had the hard task of choosing a winner from each school.
Year 5 pupil Lily Dean took the top prize at St Michael’s Primary in Lyme Regis, year 6 pupil Millie Hutchings won the competition at Mrs Ethelston’s in Uplyme, and joint winners at Charmouth Primary were year 4 pupil Tegan Farmer and year 6 pupil Sasha Farmer. Congratulations to the winners, who won a £10 book voucher, and our thanks to all those who took part.
In September we were honoured with a visit from the county regiment, The Rifles, who exercised their Freedom of the town of Lyme Regis with a march through the town, followed by the unveiling of the enhanced war memorial featuring four additional names.
In the final run-up to Armistice Day, the Royal British Legion launched their Poppy Appeal in the town and hosted a rousing Festival of Remembrance at the Woodmead Halls, while the Marine Theatre screened the film ‘War Horse’.
On November 11, the town came together to mark 100 years to the day when the guns fell silent, with our mayor and councillors joining with the community for the Remembrance parade, church service and two-minute silence.
A remarkable event took place on Sunday afternoon, when a giant portrait of war hero Rifleman Kulbir Thapa VC emerged out of the sand. Our beach was one of 30 in the country chosen to host this nationwide gesture of remembrance, when the large-scale portrait was carved into the sand and washed away as the tide came in.
The event was planned with military precision, but when heavy storms on Friday night washed away much of the sand and left debris strewn across the beach, we made the last-minute decision to rake the beach with the tractor to ensure the event could go ahead. Council staff are once again to be commended for their efforts to ensure the day went smoothly, from helping with road closures and chopping up wood for the beacon, to clearing the debris from the beach and emptying bins.
With the portrait still visible in the sand, the mayor waded across to the North Wall, wearing wellies borrowed from the RNLI, to light the beacon, as part of a national tribute called Battle’s Over. The lighting of the beacon was accompanied by bugler Dennis Bye playing the Last Post and followed by town crier Alan Vian crying out for peace.
We made all our car parks in the town free for the day, as did West Dorset District Council – we felt this was only fitting for such a special day.
What a way to end this commemorative year – we would like to thank all the organisations who helped make the events happen, and the whole community for contributing to their success.
The town did itself proud and most importantly, the 63 fallen servicemen of Lyme Regis.
Council restores gravestone of Victoria Cross recipient
A GRAVESTONE in Lyme Regis cemetery in memory of a Victoria Cross recipient has been reinstated by the council.
A memorial to the late Edgar Christopher Cookson VC, who died on 28 September 1915, had fallen into disrepair.
The Royal Navy Lieutenant-Commander is not buried in Lyme Regis, but he is memorialised on a gravestone to his parents. The stone cross had fallen on the ground and the stone plinth on which it stood was subsiding.
In recognition of the importance of this gravestone during this centenary year, the council decided to pay for the memorial to be repaired in time for Armistice Day.
Edgar Cookson was killed in action when he was shot down while endeavouring single-handedly to destroy with an axe the boom placed by the enemy across the River Tigris near Kut-el-Amara, Mesopotamia (now Iraq). He was awarded the VC posthumously by King George V on 29 November 1916 at Buckingham Palace.
Edgar Cookson is laid to rest at Amara War Cemetery, south of Baghdad, and a memorial can also be found at the Church of St Candida and Holy Cross in Whitchurch Canonicorum.
Disappointment over transfer of assets
WE’RE bitterly disappointed the deal for the town council to take on various assets and services in Lyme Regis has been scuppered.
We have been in talks with West Dorset District Council for three years and the final deal was on the verge of being agreed. But at the eleventh hour, the new Dorset Council’s shadow executive stepped in and called a halt to deals with all town councils in West Dorset.
The deal for Lyme would have meant the town council taking on public toilets, the tourist information centre and a town-centre car park, and also included a land swap at Monmouth Beach and the management of several leases and areas of land, such as Theatre Square.
We believe this would have been of great benefit to Lyme Regis and would have protected non-statutory services such as public toilets and tourist information.
It is hugely disappointing that we have now reached this point, with many hours of member and officer time gone to waste.
Major lighting project planned for gardens
THE seafront gardens will be lit in an array of colour in a new project we’re currently working on.
The Langmoor and Lister Gardens were designed as a place to encourage wildlife and somewhere the public could sit in pleasant surroundings and enjoy the view. Now we’d like to enhance the gardens with a major lighting scheme, drawing out key features of the area and illuminating pathways and points of interest.
It is also hoped the gardens can be lit for special events, such as red lighting for Remembrance and festive lighting at Christmas.
The scheme will cost around £60,000, half of which will be paid for through section 106 funding, which are community contributions relating to planning permissions for developments in Lyme Regis.
We were one of 11 organisations to apply to West Dorset District Council for this funding and we are thrilled to receive funding to progress our project.
We’re now talking to design consultants about how the scheme will look and are aiming to have the illuminations in place ahead of the peak season.
Local organisations invited to apply for council grant funding
LYME Regis organisations will soon have another chance to apply for funding from the town council for community projects.
Around £40,000 has been allocated in our budget for the annual grants to community groups and organisations that provide services and opportunities in Lyme Regis.
Each year we invite applications for grants of up to £4,999 and we expect to receive more than 20 bids from a range of organisations covering all sectors. We recognise the important contribution local organisations make to the town and it gives us great satisfaction to see our money being put to good use in the community.
Applications will be open from the end of January, with a deadline at the end of February, and a special council meeting on March 27 to consider the applications. If any organisation would like to have a chat about a prospective application or to check eligibility, we’d be more than happy to discuss it and offer some guidance.
Call us on 01297 445175 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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