Dozens of Blackpool Freemasons joined 100s of military personnel, ex-servicemen, cadets, representatives of the scouting movement, Salvation Army, British Legion, police, public services, politicians and members of the general public at the town’s Cenotaph to honour those who gave their lives in both world wars and other conflicts around the world.
Heading the party of Masons was Assistant Provincial Grand Master Harry Cox, Provincial Grand Master of Mark Master Masons Keith Beardmore and Chairman of Blackpool Group John Turpin.
A piercing Arctic wind swept across the promenade, sending a sombre chill through to the very soul, vividly underscoring the poignancy of the occasion. Somehow, the fierceness of the cold prompted all to more intensely ponder on the horrors of war, the suffering and sorrow it brings and it provoked those present to remember the sacrifices that so many brave members of the armed forces have made to preserve freedom and justice whilst fighting tyranny, oppression and terror. The cold was befitting of the day; warmth would have been inappropriate to the emotions of the occasion.
The intense cold did not deter attendees at the memorial service. Old and young gathered in their droves, all firmly resolved with but one sentiment on their minds – ‘We will remember them!’ The 100s of members of the public that took part in the day listened with dignity and solemnity as Rev Canon Dr Simon Cox, Anglican Area Dean of Blackpool, introduced the day’s service, followed by other members of the clergy; Rev Steve Haskett, Vicar of Blackpool St John the Evangelist; Rev Canon Father Bob Dewhurst, The Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church and Rev Augusta Gibrill, the Mayor’s Chaplain.
It was the Mayor of Blackpool Councillor Ian Coleman who led the Act of Remembrance, prior to the bugle player’s solo of the ‘Last Post’, the two-minute period of reflective silence, and again, the bugle’s solitary playing of ‘Reveille’.
To many of the onlookers, a particularly profound part of the day came after the two-minute silence when a veteran of WW II recited the Kohima Epitaph: “When you go home, tell them of us and say: For your tomorrow, we gave our today.” It was a highly charged and emotional moment and stressed the importance of the day.
Emotional renditions of ‘Amazing Grace’ and ‘Eternal Father, strong to save’ by the Rossall School Choir provided the perfect backdrop to the laying of wreaths.
The first being laid on behalf of the Borough of Blackpool by the Mayor. John Turpin and Keith Beardmore laid their wreaths on behalf of Craft and Royal Arch Freemasonry and Mark Master Masonry respectively.
The weather may have been freezing cold but the sentiments on the day were most definitely warm and heartfelt. At the service’s conclusion, the Freemasons present were firmly resolved to remember all the fallen heroes.