By Ken Bennett and Aimee Belmore
HUNDREDS of people trekked up to the iconic memorial at Pots and Pans to pay tribute in the bright sunshine on Remembrance Sunday.
Led by Rev Aaron Jackman, assistant curate for the Saddleworth Team, they came together in prayer and to sing hymns, accompanied by Dobcross Brass Monkeys.
Rev Jackman said: “‘No greater love has a man than to lay down one’s life for a friend’.
“These were the words spoken thousands of years ago by Jesus to his beloved disciples as he prepared to depart from them – as he himself prepared to lay down his life for his friends.
“It seems to me Jesus knew the only way to transform the ugliness in the world into something beautiful and give itself a lease of new life was through the act of putting others before oneself. So he modelled that truth by his death on the cross.
“If we fast forward to the First World War, we see that truth being modelled, not this time by a single individual, but by tens of millions of men, women and children as they put the needs of their families, their friends, their nation before themselves; many of whom willingly gave their lives in battle.
“In 2019 – a year marked by division, uncertainty and fear, where nations have been torn apart and families forced to flee their homes because of war and violence – may we be willing to learn from those who have gone before us.
“May we be prepared to put others before ourselves, to fight for the sanctity of all life, no matter whose life it is; and may Christ, whose life and death showed us what true compassion looks like, breathe new life into your hearts and the hearts of all those you meet this year.”
Wreaths were laid by Saddleworth Parish Council Chairman Cllr Jamie Curley, former MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth Debbie Abrahams, Sergeant Neil Barker, representatives from Royal British Legion, and other groups and organisations.
Alison Clowes, standard bearer for the Saddleworth branch of the Royal British Legion, returned after representing the area at the televised Service of Remembrance at London’s Royal Albert Hall, attended by the Queen and Royal Family.
The Saddleworth Branch of the Royal British Legion held two services at the memorial in St Chad’s Gardens in Uppermilll, including the Act of Remembrance, prayers, and laying of wreaths.
Elsewhere, services and events were held at churches and other venues across Saddleworth to mark Remembrance Day.
In Dobcross, Dobcross Youth Band led the procession to Holy Trinity Church for the service led by Canon Sharon Jones and Graham McGuffie.
And along the way, a prayer of dedication was read at the newly installed Silent Soldier memorial.
In Austerlands, a crowd of around 200 paid tributes at Saddleworth’s oldest war memorial.
The service was conducted by Roger Fielding with Rev Sally Robinson from St. John The Baptist Hey reading the prayer.
Wreaths were laid by Royal Navy veteran David Buckley on behalf of Saddleworth Parish Council; ex RAF squadron leader Robert Knotts, chairman of the Scouthead & Austerlands Community Group; and David Needham on behalf of Mayor of Austerlands Derek Heffernan.
The Last Post was sounded by Vicky Prescott and proceedings closed with extracts from a 1915 poem, written by Saddleworth poet Ammon Wrigley, entitled The Lads of Austerlands and Scouthead, read by Mrs Susan Smith.
In Lees, Oldham Band (Lees) led a procession to the cemetery and war memorial from St Thomas’ Church for their Remembrance service.
St Thomas’ Leesfield Harvest Queen Annie Jakeman, 9, laid a hand-made wreath with her retinue, Evie Marsden, and Eva, Sean and Joseph Yates.
The wreath was made by the children of St. Thomas’ Leesfield Sunday School and they chose to include purple poppies as well as red to remember the animals lost in the war as well.
Having only just lost her great-grandad Roy Snowden in May, at the age of 95, Annie’s thoughts were particular of him and his stories of flying his Dakota in India with RAF Squadron 671.
Pictures thanks to Pictureful of Memories
Meantime, there were a host of Remembrance Concerts across the community including Friezland Brass Band at Uppermill Conservative Club, Boarshurst Band, Dobcross Brass Monkeys, and Diggle Band.
And Saddleworth Male Voice Choir held its popular annual Concert of Remembrance at a packed-out Civic Hall in Uppermill.
The choir sang a selection of well-known favourites, including Bridge Over Troubled Water and a medley from Les Miserables, followed by a sing-along of popular world war songs.
They were joined by special guests Wardle Anderson Brass under the baton of their MD Sean Conway, who performed a varied programme including Breezin’ Down Broadway and You’ll Never Walk Alone as well as pieces with young soloists Matthew Hall and Adam Warburton.
There was also the Act of Remembrance with the Standard Bearer of the Royal British Legion and a reading of the poem ‘For the Fallen’.