Traditionally, in early August, the Town Council works with the Witney Branch of the Royal British Legion to finalise plans for Remembrance Day. In this extraordinary year, taking a steer from the Witney Branch, and in line with ongoing Covid-19 restrictions, Remembrance Sunday is looking very different for our town.
Recently, our local Royal British Legion Branch have written to inform us that County and Branch officials have been asked to pass on to members that they are not to parade and will not lay wreaths as they normally do for Remembrance Day this year. This has been a very difficult decision for them to take and they are hugely disappointed.
Even the poppy appeal has been cut back drastically by the charity, which fears putting some of its most vulnerable volunteers and veterans at risk. Street collections will not be going ahead in Witney this autumn, with the organisation looking to rely on contactless donations instead this year. If you would like to support the Royal British Legion in their fundraising efforts during this difficult time, there are lots of ways you can do so on their website including some quite unusual things. You could, for example, undertake a sponsored poppy run!
The cancellation of the parade, in particular, will be felt especially hard. Our Remembrance Day event is always extremely well supported by residents, and everyone who has ever attended can attest to the enthusiastic contributions of the various youth organisations, along with the church and Witney’s Town Band. Unfortunately, public gatherings of large numbers of people are currently restricted by Covid-19 regulations, and the safety of all involved is paramount.
Despite this, it is both proper and important to recognise the great sacrifices made for us by previous generations. Between them Witney Town Council and the Royal British Legion will ensure that the memorial is dressed with the wreaths that are normally placed there by wreath laying organisations in time for Armistice Day. However, there will be no road closure, no parade, and no service at the memorial, so acts of remembrance will be of a more personal nature. One suggestion has been that people observe a 2 minute silence on their doorsteps at 11am, much in the way that people clapped for the NHS.
The Town Council is also planning to work with members of organisations that normally take part to bring together a meaningful and respectful online presentation that can be enjoyed safely by all.
Witney Town Mayor, Cllr Joy Aitman remarked,
“As a Town we will always remember and honour our veterans and those who lost their lives for us. This year, as with many events, we must do so in our own personal way. Parades and services are important but the safety of our residents remains a priority. “