A woman from Whaley Bridge, who had planted her personal cross in the grass near the fencing in Memorial Park on Remembrance Sunday 2013, walked a little nearer the Cenotaph at the top of the hill. It looked a very sad, unused memorial. She has been coming to the service of memory at the Cenotaph every year since her parents died. The unknown woman was remembering her father's two uncles, who died in World War I. One lies in a war grave in France, the other was killed at Gallipolli. She also remembered a close friend of the family - known then as 'uncle' - who was killed in World War II, serving with the RAF.
2014 - the centenary of the start of World I - will provide many opportunities for Whaley Bridge people to remember our war dead. Following the controversial closure of the Cenotaph in Whaley Bridge's Memorial Park in autumn 2013, because of uncompleted work on the park makeover, attendances at local remembrance services gave a foretaste of what is to come.
Services throughout Whaley Bridge and Furness Vale were higher than previous years. Young people were to the fore, with several carrying banners or laying wreaths. A ten year old member of Whaley Bridge Band, Javan Carrington played the Last Post at ceremonies at the Furness Vale and Bridgemont war memorials. Javan,from Chapel en le Frith, has been a member of Whaley band for only a few weeks. He also plays drums in the Dark Peak Orchestra.
Later Javan joined the full band who played in a crowded Holy Trinity church for the main ceremony. The Rev Margaret, priest in charge of Whaley Bridge, and Rev Michael Peat, minister of the Uniting Church, conducted the service. Holy Trinity was so full, there were no seats for many members of the congregation, who stood throughout the service.
While this main service was going on, about 30 people attended an unofficial service of remembrance in the park, at the nearest point to the fenced-off Cenotaph.. Wilfred Owen's famous poem, Dulce et Decorum Est, was read. A very large poppy was placed against the fence, keeping people away from the area where work is still going on.
Ex-servicemen and members of many organisations, as well as the general public, marched behind Whaley band from Holy Trinity church to the station car park, There, the Rev Michael Peat led a service round the stone memorial cross which was gifted to Whaley Bridge by owners of the Jodrell Arms a few years ago.
The chairman of Whaley Bridge Royal British Legion John Cooke, who had protested at High Peak Borough Council's failure to keep the Cenotaph open for the 2013 Remembrance weekend, was delighted with the turnout at local services.
Now, as centenary year approaches, thoughts will turn to 2014 commemorations. Work on Memorial Park is expected to be finished in the spring, with the Cenotaph once more the focal point of public and private mourning.