THOSE who lost their lives fighting in the First World War were in the thoughts of walkers as they made their way from Warwick to Stratford at the weekend.
Over 70 people stepped out in the heavy rain for the Centenary Walk from the war memorial at St Mary’s Church in Warwick to St Andrew’s in Shottery, via memorials at Hampton Lucy, Alveston, and the Garden of Remembrance in Stratford’s Old Town.
Those taking part carried poppy crosses bearing the name of one of the dead -some the name of a relation – and at each memorial walkers stopped for a moment of reflection.
Naomi Whittaker, whose son Private Joe Whittaker was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2008, helped organise the walk which finished with a poignant service in Shottery.
Naomi said: “The weather was unbelievably wet, we got drenched to the skin three or four times but everyone stayed cheerful. There was a lovely atmosphere amongst the group.
“Many people commented that in a strange sort of way the day was more poignant because of the heavy rain, as we reflected on life in the trenches and the appalling conditions the soldiers had endured, 100 years ago.
“As we set off on the last mile from the Garden of Remembrance back to St Andrew’s, the names on the war memorials and on our poppy crosses had become people who we were carrying, and honouring for their sacrifice – it was their day.
“We arrived at St Andrew’s dripping wet from the last deluge and the sun came out in time for a very moving service led by Rev James Warren, with a band, bugler and standard bearers from the Royal British Legion.”
Naomi thanked the Stratford RBL branch for donating the poppy crosses, together with Jackie Daniels and Bob and Fran Kibblewhite who had been key in ensuring all went smoothly.
* LIGHTS went out across Warwickshire on Monday night (August 4) to mark the time Britain declared war on Germany.
Lights Out was an invitation to everyone in the UK to turn off their lights from 10pm until 11pm, leaving on a single light or candle for a shared moment of reflection.
This was inspired by the words of Edward Grey, British Foreign Secretary in 1914 – ‘The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.’
The RSC blackout the homepage on its website and the digital screens in the building for one hour showing the Edward Grey quote.
All lights at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre end of the building were also switched off at the end of performance of The Two Gentlemen of Verona – with the tower top illuminated as the company’s single light source.
* THE IMPACT of the Great war on Warwickshire’s country houses are the focus of exhibitions this summer at two National Trust properties in the county.
Coughton at War, at Coughton Court near Alcester, looks at the conflicts over the centuries that have shaped its history. The exhibition features the diaries of Courtenay Throckmorton, the ‘lost heir’ of Coughton Court who served in Gallipoli during the First World War and who was later killed in action in Mesopotamia.
And volunteers at Charlecote Park have been researching the connections between residents and horses that were sent off to war, culminating in a display in the carriage rooms.
* THE PART played by men from Henley in the First World War is the focus of A Small Town and the Great War – Henley in Arden 1914 to 1919.
The book, the result of ten years research by Dr Douglas Bridgewater, is priced £19.95.
* VISITORS to Hill Close Gardens in Warwick this weekend (August 9 and 10) can see an exhibition showing what life on the home front was likeduring the Great War, including a display of garden machinery of the type used at that time. Visit
www.hillclosegardens.com for further details.
* THE CENTENARY of the First World War and the 70th anniversary of the D Day landings will be held at Leamington’s All Saints Church this autumn.
And people are being urged to contribute memories or items of interest for exhibition running from November 1 to 15. Email s.Ireland@warwick.ac.uk or call 01926 311554.