THIS weekend sees a large number of events across the borough to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War.
Some are large but there are also many smaller local community gatherings.
The largest gathering is expected to be at?Stanford-le-Hope on?Sunday where around 3,000 are anticipated to attend. Another major service will take place at the memorial in Grays High Street.
Smaller events include a 12th century parish church in South Ockendon, which is making its own special contribution to commemorations.
From noon until 3pm on Saturday visitors to St Nicholas’ Church on The Green will be able to see an exhibition-compiled over two years by parishioner Mrs Dawn Worrell about the lives of those listed on the local War Memorial who died between 1914 and 1918.
Themed refreshments will be served throughout the afternoon. Other women parishioners have spent the past few months knitting red poppies which are being used to decorate the church.
On the Sunday, after a 10am service, the clergy and congregation will process to the Memorial where members of the community, including veterans and youth groups, will have assembled ready for the Remembrance Service.
After that service, soup will be served in the church and there will be another chance to view the exhibition until 3.30pm. The church’s commemorations will end with Sung Evensong at 6pm.
Also on Saturday there will be the usual remembrance service in Orsett at 10.45am but there will also be a new event in North Stifford. At 10am on Saturday villagers will gather on the village green to mark the start of their weekend of remembering.
The Rev Andy Higgs will lead a procession of Sea Scouts and villagers along the High Road, into Clockhouse Lane to the Stepney Boys war memorial in Guardian Avenue, Stifford Green, where at 10.50 am Andy Higgs will lead a service of remembrance and dedication of the memorial benches that the village has bought. This will be followed at 11.30am by refreshments in the Belhus Cricket Club pavilion on the village green before a ‘Street Party’ (which is a ticketed event and is now sold out) in the village hall. During the evening there will be a firework display at the Cricket Club.
On Sunday there will be a Remembrance Service at the war memorial in St. Mary’s Church, High Road, North Stifford followed by refreshments before everyone will be invited to join churches across the nation in ringing the bells to celebrate the end of the war. The bells will also be rung at 7pm and once again, anyone who is there can join in!
Carol Roddy, who is the driving force behind the weekend’s events, is hoping that that there will be a good turnout for the events. She said “I am so pleased at the way in which the villagers have got behind this and now all the hard work is coming to fruition, I hope that everyone will feel that we have achieved the right mix of celebration that the war ended in victory, and solemn remembrance and gratitude to those who gave their lives for us.”
There will also be some rather special visitors to the village because Carol spent many hours tracing family descendants of some of the boys from the Stepney Workhouse and Orphanage which was housed in the village at that time, and she is delighted that some of them will be making the journey to join in the acts of remembrance.
On Sunday evening there will be two beacon lightings in the borough. One is at Coalhouse Fort at East Tilbury and the other is in Purfleet.
The event at Coalhouse starts with a free event at nearby St Catherine’s Church. Doors open at 4.30pm, with refreshments available from this time. There will also be heritage and charity stalls.
From 5.30pm to 5.45pm, pupils from East Tilbury School will read poems in front of the entrance to Coalhouse Fort, after which there will be a performance by Gateway Academy until 6pm. From 6pm until 6:30pm in front of the fort, Thurrock Courts Players will perform extracts and songs from ‘Oh What a Lovely War’.
From 6.30pm, Thurrock Marching Brass will lead a procession to the beacon lighting area in front of the moat. Deputy Mayor Cllr Terry Piccolo will read ‘Tribute to the Millions’, after which at 6.55pm the Last Post will be played and beacon lighting will begin.
While the beacon is being lit, scouts will read out the names of the local fallen. The beacon will be fully lit at 7pm, and ‘Battle’s O’er’ will be played by a piper from Sutherland Pipers.
At Purfleet the evening will start at 5pm at the Heritage Centre for tea and coffee. There will be a display of paintings depicting WWI from Purfleet Primary School. From there participants will move onto the green by the Royal Hotel.
Tilbury Band will play music from the period. After a service and reading of names of the 26 soldiers who fell during the war who lived at Purfleet the Mayor will read out a ‘Tribute to the Millions’.
Following this will be the Last Post and Reveille. At 7pm the beacon will be lit and a rocket fired from near the Heritage Centre.
Across the borough there are lots of community activities.
In Corringham tomorrow (Friday, 9 November) children from local schools will be decorating planters in the town with poppies.
And remembrance will stretch beyond the weekend.
On Wednesday (14 November) at 2pm Thurrock Council’s World War One Commemorative Group, in partnership with Thurrock Museum Volunteers, welcomes residents to a free afternoon of talks, song and memories to mark the anniversary of the end of the First World War.
This event will look at a number of important events that affected Thurrock over the period of The Great War. Dr Vivien Newman will address this event following the publication of her latest book, ‘Suffragism and The Great War’ in May 2018.