The Cotswolds unite in candle tributes to WW1 fallen

Lights out at the Moreton War Memorial. Picture by Adam Wood

The Cotswolds unite in candle tributes to WW1 fallen

Lights out at Stow war memorial in St Edward's Church

The Bryncoch Welsh male choir performing outside the town hall in Chipping Norton, picture by Susi Paz and Don Davidson.

Actor and historian Robert Hardy, picture by Susi Paz and Don Davidson.

Reverend Jackie Jones, at the Chipping Norton service, Picture by Susi Paz and Don Davidson.

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POIGNANT services were held across the Cotswolds as people came together to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War.

People turned all the lights off to leave just a single candle burning as young and old joined millions of people across the country in the national Lights Out event on Monday night.

The moment echoed the famous words spoken 100 years ago by the British Foreign Secretary, Sir Edward Grey on the eve of Britain’s entry into the first ever global conflict: “The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.”

Up to 80 people gathered around the Moreton war memorial to reflect on the significance of the historic date and remember those from the town that fought and died for their country.

Four candles were lit at 10pm and extinguished every 15 minutes by three relatives of those who died in the Great War who are named on the war memorial.

The final candle was extinguished at 11pm by a local ex-serviceman before people listened to a short address and observed a two-minutes silence.

Organiser Jenny Harris, of Moreton, said the event was very poignant especially with the relatives of some of the fallen in attendance.

"It meant quite a lot to them, one chap in particular was quite overwhelmed," she said. "It was amazing. We had a really good turnout. We had quite a few teenagers all the way up to a couple of older gentlemen. It was very emotional. It was really nice to do it."

There was also a Lights Out ceremony between 10pm and 11pm at the War Memorial in St Edward's Church, Stow, followed by a vigil service taken by Reverend Martin Short.

Stow Royal British Legion branch chairman Derek Arthurs who attended the event said it was very moving.

"The church was pretty full," he said. "There were people from all over town. I think the response up to now all over the nation has been incredible. From 10pm everybody switched off their lights.

"There was just one burning candle in the windows. I think it's wonderful."

All the lights were switched off at Gloucestershire County Council’s Shire Hall and a single candle was left to illuminate the reception while many houses in Paxford, near Chipping Campden, left a single light on in the window.

And a candlelit vigil was also held at Tewkesbury Abbey from 10pm to 11pm.

Meanwhile, over the weekend special commemorative services and exhibitions were held across the area.

The Chipping Norton branch of the Royal British Legion organised a commemoration on behalf of the town council on Sunday which was attended by local dignitaries including Mayor Mike Tysoe and Deputy Lieutenant of Oxfordshire, David Astor, along with war veterans and cadets.

Up to 300 people gathered on the steps of the town hall for the service and watched performances from the Accidentals Brass Band which played a medley of tunes from the era, the Rhythm is Life choir and the Bryncoch Welsh male choir.

Readings were also given by Reverend Jackie Jones and actor and historian Robert Hardy who read his favourite war poem “Spring Offensive” by Wilfred Owen.

RBL branch member Steve Kingsford, told the story of Chippy Bombardier Arthur Thomas Withers, who had died of his wounds in 1918 while serving with the Royal Garrison Artillery.

He said the event was very well attended.

"It was very moving," he said. "Everyone seemed to appreciate what we had done. It all went off very smoothly. Paul Burbidge whose great uncle Edwin “Ted” Burbidge died in the war had a book of poems published after he died. We had one of those read out it was quite special."

Over in from Chipping Campden, brave heroes who fought in the First World War were also commemorated in a special exhibition on Saturday and Sunday in the Upper Town Hall.

The two-day event was a joint effort by the Royal British Legion, Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund and the Campden Historical Society to mark the town’s contribution to the Great War.

Town Councillor Clive Constable said: "The reaction of local people, from all over the country and abroad who came in found it one of the most interesting exhibitions they had seen for a long time.

"It must have roused their ambition to look through their family albums. We were very proud of doing our little bit for Campden."

A two-day archive exhibition also took place in Westcote, near Bourton, over the weekend which featured photographs, war diaries and transcripts, maps, medal cards, wills, service records and artefacts.

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