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Remembrance Sunday: ‘Lonely experience’ to honour the fallen in Redbridge during Covid-19 pandemic

PUBLISHED: 17:00 09 November 2020

There was a very small ceremony at the Ilford War Memorial with all public services cancelled due to the pandemic. Picture: Jas Athwal

There was a very small ceremony at the Ilford War Memorial with all public services cancelled due to the pandemic. Picture: Jas Athwal

Archant

Remembrance Sunday services across Redbridge this year were a much quieter affair, with people privately paying their respects and some services going virtual.

Ilford North MP Wes Streeting, council leader Jas Athwal and Cllr Ruth Clark were among those who attended a very small gathering at the Ilford War Memorial.

Ashley Kissin (left) laid a wreath on behalf of The Jewish Military Association in honour of his father Nathan Kissin (right) who fought with the 8th army. Picture: AJEXAshley Kissin (left) laid a wreath on behalf of The Jewish Military Association in honour of his father Nathan Kissin (right) who fought with the 8th army. Picture: AJEX

Others paid their respects in private as all public services were cancelled this year due to the pandemic.

MP Wes Streeting and Cllr Jas Athwal at the Ilford War Memorial. Picture: Jas AthwalMP Wes Streeting and Cllr Jas Athwal at the Ilford War Memorial. Picture: Jas Athwal

In their place Vision RCL produced a film to replace Remembrance Day ceremonies this year.

Father Gareth Jones said it was a lonely experience honouring the fallen this year. Picture: Gareth JonesFather Gareth Jones said it was a lonely experience honouring the fallen this year. Picture: Gareth Jones

The film, which included members of the community laying wreaths and showing their respect in a pre-recorded ceremony, was released on Remembrance Sunday.

Former Ilford South MP Mike Gapes paid his respects in private honouring his great uncle William Frank Gapes who died on the first day of the battle of The Somme. Picture: Mike GapesFormer Ilford South MP Mike Gapes paid his respects in private honouring his great uncle William Frank Gapes who died on the first day of the battle of The Somme. Picture: Mike Gapes

Cllr Athwal said: “Although this year cannot be like all others we will still take time to remember all those who sacrificed so much in the war effort.

Deputy BCU Commander Supt Mark Long laid wreaths at the memorials across the borough. Picture: Mark LongDeputy BCU Commander Supt Mark Long laid wreaths at the memorials across the borough. Picture: Mark Long

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“We could not hold formal remembrance ceremonies today but it was moving to see local people visit the Ilford war memorial to pay their respects.”

Council leader Jas Athwal at a small ceremony at the Ilford War Memorial. Picture: Jas AthwalCouncil leader Jas Athwal at a small ceremony at the Ilford War Memorial. Picture: Jas Athwal

Former Ilford South MP Mike Gapes said he had attended Remembrance Sunday ceremonies for the last 30 years but this year he paid his respects in private, particularly to his great uncle William Frank Gapes who died aged 18 on July 1, 1916 on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.

Deputy BCU Commander Supt Mark Long laid wreaths at the memorials at Newbury Park, Wanstead and Woodford Green.

Father Gareth Jones, vicar at St Mary’s Ilford, paid his respects at Ilford cemetery following the requiem mass for the war fallen and called it “a lonely experience this year”.

The Fairlop Remembrance ceremony, which has taken place on November 11 since 2009, is also not going ahead this year.

The Fairlop Heritage Group put together a virtual ceremony to remember those from the Commonwealth and around the world who served and died in a number of conflicts, particularly those from Fairlop.

Historian David Martin said: “2020 has been a difficult year coping with the danger of an unseen enemy and will be remembered when we lose our friend Brian Lambert, a former councillor and our friend Alan Howe, a founding member since 2009.”


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