Test Valley Borough Council has announced plans for this year’s Remembrance Sunday events, in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Every year, local community leaders join together with the Royal British Legion (RBL) and veterans, alongside other voluntary organisations, in holding a ceremony to commemorate those who served in battle, and gave the ultimate sacrifice on Remembrance Sunday.
Due to the current Covid-19 pandemic, the council has announced that plans will be changed this year to help keep the public safe, while continuing to honour our servicemen and women.
A service is to be held in the garden of St Marys Church, Andover, on Remembrance Sunday, and will be attended by invited guests, such as the Andover RBL President, Jim Neal, members of other veteran and voluntary organisations, and the leader of the borough council, Phil North. This will take place at 11am, although unfortunately, this will be a closed service to the public due to the limited space in the garden to maintain social distance and adhere to government guidelines. The mayor of Test Valley, councillor Martin Hatley, will lay a wreath at the service on behalf of all residents.
Steps will be taken to ensure the event is strictly in line with Covid-19 guidance, such as being marked out two metres apart from one another, and with a limited number of attendees in the garden.
Although there will be no parade or public service, leader of the borough council, Phil North, is encouraging residents to take part in honouring those who served, and continue to serve, from home on Remembrance Sunday.
Councillor North said:
I realise that this year is like no other, and therefore, sadly, our commemorations this Remembrance Sunday, are too. I feel it’s incredibly important to honour those who sacrificed so much for our freedom, this year, although I know how difficult it is for the communities around Test Valley not to be able to pay their respects in the way they would like to.
However, I would encourage residents to take part in the national Royal British Legion pledge to come out on your doorstep at 11am and take part in the moment of silence, as we will all be across the country, not only in Test Valley. We will be filming the service, respectfully, so that later in the day, residents are able to feel a part of our honouring those heroes. I know that across the region, authorities are doing what they can, and I’m extremely grateful for the hard work and careful consideration that means we are still able to honour our heroes in person, this year.”
The church garden will also be open to the public to safely pay their respects in the afternoon, after the closed service has finished.
A garden of remembrance is also being set up by the council in the Chantry Centre in the week leading up to Remembrance Day, so that members of the public can pay their respects with a moment of reflection.
The Remembrance Garden will be open during the Chantry Centres normal opening hours between November 2 and November 11 situated at the indoor garden by Boswells. The RBL will also be selling poppies in the shopping centre.
Councillor North added:
I know how difficult this year has been for all, and how emotive Remembrance Sunday can be. I do hope that members of the public can play their part by staying home and staying safe by coming together on their doorsteps to pay respect to those who we must honour for their greatest sacrifice.