On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in the year 1918, the nation of Germany signed an armistice agreement, prepared by Britain and France, which declared the end of the First World War.
After four years’ fighting, and the deaths of millions, St Helens will come together 100 years on to the day, to commemorate the fallen at Remembrance Sunday ceremonies across the borough.
The events will, of course, also be an opportunity to honour those who died during all conflicts of the 20th and 21st centuries.
As in previous years, residents are invited to congregate at Victoria Square on Sunday 11 November at 10.25am, where a parade – led by Armed Forces veterans and young representatives from the Cadets, Scouts and Guides – will make its way from Birchley Street to the war memorial in front of St Helens Town Hall.
The ceremony will open with a welcome and prayers from local parish reverends before the square observes a two-minute silence at 11:00am.
After the two-minute silence, the ceremony will continue with words of commemoration; a rendition of ‘Amazing Grace’ by a lone piper; and a performance by the Haydock Male Voice Choir. The ceremony will close with the National Anthem, led by the Valley Brass Band and Haydock Male Voice Choir, before the laying of wreathes.
Following the service, the town hall will be open for tea and coffee where there will also be the opportunity to view a local World War One photo exhibition, courtesy of the St Helens Community Archive.
In Earlestown and Newton-le-Willows the focal point will be the war memorial at Earlestown Town Hall, with the event due to get underway at 10:45am. St Helens North MP Conor McGinn and Deputy Mayor of St Helens, Janet Johnson, are among those due to attend.
The A57 Warrington Road, from View Road to St James Road, will be closed for Rainhill’s procession from St Ann’s Church for a wreath laying ceremony at 12:00pm.
Remembrance services will also take in churches and at war memorials in several of the borough’s other wards, including Rainford and Billinge.
Meanwhile, as part of the St Helens 150 events programme, St Helens will participate in a national tribute event that evening.
The ‘Beacons of Light’ tribute will see a gas fuelled beacon lit at Taylor Park to symbolise the ‘light of hope’ that emerged from the darkness of war.
The ceremony will get underway at 6:45pm, with those interested in attending asked to meet at the Boathouse Café at 6:30pm.
The beacon will be lit at approximately 7:00pm.
In St Helens Town Hall the evening before (Saturday 10 November), the Haydock Male Voice Choir will perform a special ‘Bless ‘Em All’ concert to mark the centenary of the armistice.
The lovely and talented Ellie Hull will sing Vera Lynn numbers and there will be a chance for audience participation.
The Royal British Legion and army and navy cadets will join in for a ‘Last Night of the Proms’ type grand finale.
St Helens Council’s Armed Forces Champion, Councillor Lynn Clarke said: “Remembrance Sunday is a fitting opportunity for us to honour our servicemen and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country – and this year we are proud to be playing a part in the historic international event, ‘The Beacons of Light’ to recognise the contribution and sacrifice made by the men and women from our own community.
“Each year, it’s moving to see such incredible turn outs at Remembrance Sunday events, with young and old coming together to pay their respects which is a heart-warming reminder that St Helens will always remember.”