Secondary school students have taken part in a competition to show off their commemorative artwork, members of the community have knitted dozens of colourful poppies for Bottesford’s Friendly Bench and an anonymous knitter left a poignant life-size soldier by the war memorial at Syston.
On Thursday, shortly before 11am, members of the Melton branch of the Royal British Legion will hold a service outside their Thorpe End headquarters to mark Armistice Day and the end of the Great War, on November 11, 1918.
Poppies have been sold in large numbers in pubs, shops and schools over the last fortnight in aid of the Legion’s annual Poppy Appeal and sales will be further boosted on Saturday when local branch members have a stall in the Market Place all day.
And on Sunday, crowds will line Melton’s town centre streets to observe the colour and pageantry of the Remembrance Parade for the first time since 2019 with last year’s event being cancelled due to the pandemic restrictions on public gatherings.
Melton Borough Council is organising the parade in collaboration with the Legion, Defence Animal Training Regiment, Melton Mowbray Town Estate, Melton Police, Melton Lions and St Mary’s Church.
Participants will start outin Chapel Street Car Park at 10.20am before heading down Sage Cross Street, Sherrard Street and Church Street to St Mary’s, for a service starting at 10.50am.
Following the church service the parade will re-form at 11.50am in Burton Street and pass down Leicester Street, past the dais and the salutes by dignatories in the Market Place to the Memorial Gardens, where wreaths will be laid at a short ceremony.
The Melton Band will lead the parade and be joined by representation from the Armed Forces, Royal British Legion, RAF Association, Royal Army Veterinary Association, Army and Air Cadets, along with Scouts, Guides and local clubs.
The council say residents are welcome to watch and support the event and they are encouraged to take health precautions by taking a Covid lateral flow test beforehand and wearing a face covering during it.
The church service will be available to view via a live stream, for those wishing to watch it from home - those interested should go to https://www.melton.leicester.anglican.org/ to access it from the Diocese of Leicester, Melton Mowbray Team Parish website.
Other Remembrance services and wreath-laying events will take place in villages across the Melton borough, including at Burrough-on-the-Hill, where Padre Brian McAvoy will lead a service at the 10th Battalion Memorial at 10.45am.
Mayor of Melton, Councillor Peter Faulkner toured the town’s two secondary schools this week to see the impressive displays created by students and staff to pay tribute to the fallen. He was joined by Melton Royal British Legion president, Peter Roffey, and Danny O’Brien, who is chair of the branch.
Long Field Spencer Academy principal, Chris Haggett, said: “Our displays were made by lots of different students in lots of years including in design and technology lessons, as well as part of our weekly textiles club.
“The wooden disc poppies on the floor were a chance for students and families to record memories of loved ones who have been lost in conflict.
“Students in Year 8 made the desk top wooden poppies, which are really lovely and all individual.
“We also have five purple poppies made by the textiles club, one for each of our school dogs. It has been a really lovely competition to take part in.”
Pupils at John Ferneley College made their display entirely from 2019 and 2020 Remembrance pin badges which couldn’t be sold due to Covid.
Sharon Rowell, head of design technology and the designer behind the display, said: “We were approached by the Royal British Legion to see if there was anything we could do with the badges that hadn’t been sold from the previous two years due to the pandemic.
“The display honours the service and sacrifice of our armed forces, veterans, and their families.
“A special thank you to all of the students who participated in the preparation of the display and helped piece everything together.”
Natalie Teece, head of school, added: “I am incredibly proud of the hard work of our staff and students involved in creating this year’s Remembrance display.
“This is a time for reflection amongst our school and local community and we have embraced the opportunity to work together to create this fantastic display.”
Staff and students at John Ferneley will once again be holding a two-minute silence on Thursday at 11am as the nation falls silent for those who have given the ultimate sacrifice in defence of their country.
A bugler will attend to play The Last Post and students who are part of organisations such as the cadets, Scouts and Guides, are welcome to wear their uniforms for the school day.
The school says it is working on plans to move its display to St Mary’s Church for Remembrance Sunday.
Villagers at Bottesford are enjoying a vibrant display of knitted poppies adorning their Friendly Bench, which was set up to enable lonely and isolated people to meet and chat with others.
The concept has been rolled out across the country with 11 other benches now in place, and all have a link with their local Royal British Legion branch to support members.
Founder Lyndsey Young told us last month: “We have invited members of the public to knit, sew or crochet a poppy and then we will display them all over the Friendly Bench. We’ve got quite a few people doing them, including one lady who’s done 30 knitted poppies. Members of the local Royal British Legion branch are coming over on November 11 in the afternoon and we’ve also invited our local pre-school to come out to see the poppies.”
There has been quite a stir in Syston this week after a wonderful knitted life-size soldier suddenly appeared one day at the war memorial clock tower on Central Park.
The town council Tweeted to say it was ‘blown away’ by the display, which has been credited to Syston’s mysterious Knitting Banxy, who recently also knitted a horse-themed postbox for the town.