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Frome remembers


The memorial dedication.

The memorial dedication.

FROME joined in nationwide commemoration services this month with a statue dedication, memorial service, and candlelight vigil to mark 100 years since the outbreak of World War One. 

Crowds turned out to begin commemorations with the Service of Dedication on Sunday 3rd August.

Frome’s special tribute was paid to Sgt Charlie Robbins, a local man who worked at J.W. Singer before being sent to war. He returned and was immortalised by the uniformed statue cast of him in 1922. The lone figure had stood first at the J.W. Singer & Sons Foundry, then was moved to Tyco on the Marston Trading Estate, and its rehoming at the Memorial Theatre in a specially built Garden of Remembrance was central to the commemorations.

The Garden of Remembrance was created by an architect and team of volunteers, with the help of local businesses, and the statue’s plinth was donated and transported by Angela Yeoman.

The statue’s dedication service was led by Father Neil Maxted, Honorary President of the Frome Branch Royal British Legion.

Jane Norris, chair of the Frome branch said, “He spoke movingly of the essence of conflict, of sacrifice and of the importance that we never forget.”

Sarah Jane Bungay of BBC Points West opened the service with Philip Larkin’s poem ‘1914’.  Other poems were read; ‘In Flanders Fields’, read by local historian Jonathan Cheal; ‘We Shall Keep The Faith’, read by Jane Norris; and poems penned by children of Christ Church First School, read by headteacher Sarah Bullmore.

Addresses were also given by the representatives of Tyco (Stephen Francis), Frome Town Council (Nick White), and the Frome Memorial Theatre (Humphrey Barnes).

Calling the minute’s silence with the Last Post was ten-year-old Harriet Cooper from the Frome Town Youth Band.

The next evening, Monday 4th August, the church of St John the Baptist filled up for the Service of Reflection on the night that war was declared one hundred years ago. The service was followed by participation in a nationwide candlelight vigil to pay homage to wartime Foreign Secretary Edward Grey’s remark on the outbreak of WW1; ‘The lamps are going out all over Europe. We shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.’

Jane Norris said, “Candles were lit during the service, then to conclude in silence, the service standards of the RBL, RNA, RAFA and the ATC and Sea Cadets  were marched out in spaced time, as if into the unknown.

“A quiet throng of some two hundred stood with candles for an hour, as the Town Crier declared at 10pm the nationally observed ‘Lights Out – One Million Candles to Remember’ at the Memorial Theatre Garden.

“The soldier, Charlie Robbins, was unexpectedly illuminated in the darkness; an innocent man, a man of Frome who went off to war and came back.  For all those then, and now, Lest We Forget.”