Thrussington to pay tribute to former vicar and the heroic nurse he supported during the Great War

Rev Stirling Gahan in the graveyard at Thrussington Church in 1955 EMN-150610-100928001
Rev Stirling Gahan in the graveyard at Thrussington Church in 1955 EMN-150610-100928001
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A tribute will be paid on Monday to a former Thrussington vicar and the heroic nurse he comforted exactly 100 years ago on the eve of her execution by German troops during the First World War.

Prominent dignataries are to attend a special service at the village church in memory of Edith Cavell, who nursed wounded soldiers on both sides of the conflict while also running an escape line for hundreds of allied soldiers to neutral Holland.

Monday’s church service will also remember the Rev Stirling Gahan, who was Thrussington’s longest ever serving vicar from 1923 to 1959 and who was a chaplain in Belgium during the Great War. He was asked to share Holy Communion with Edith at her jail in Brussels before she was shot the next morning.

The clergyman wrote a moving report of what happened and when the news got out people were outraged in the UK, and it helped change public opinion in the United States before it decided to deploy troops in Europe which helped accelerate the German surrender.

Patrick Rendall, who led a campaign last year to restore the Rev Gahan’s delapidated grave at the church of Holy Trinity in Thrussington and to highlight his wartime story, said: “The visit to see Edith Cavell in that prison cell might have seemed a small gesture in the face of the enemy.

“But the Holy Communion they shared must have given Edith both spiritual uplift and courage to face her death.

“A century later we know the Christian support he gave her, the importance of his account and its impact nationally and internationally were immense.

“The village school will be very involved in the service so we can ensure the story lives on through this young generation.”

Among the guests set to attend the service, which starts at 2pm, are the Lord Lieutenant of Leicestershire, Jennifer, Lady Gretton, the Mayor and Mayoress of Charnwood and Leicestershire County Council chairman David Snartt.