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Coventry will host an online commemoration of Remembrance Day [News]

Published: Wednesday, 28 October 2020

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Coventry will this year host an online commemoration of Remembrance Day as the city acts to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Civic and Faith leaders and representatives of the Armed Forces’ groups have taken the joint decision to stay within social distancing guidelines and keep people safe. The decision is in line with others taken around the country, and the Council is now working with BBC CWR to create a pre-recorded act of remembrance that will be broadcast and available to watch online on Remembrance Sunday.
This year is the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, and 14 November also marks 80 years since the Blitz that devastated the city. The programme will be a tribute to all those who lost their lives and showed such bravery to keep others safe while serving and on the Home Front, replacing traditional events at the Cenotaph and London Road Cemetery.

Lord Mayor of Coventry, Cllr Ann Lucas, said: “It is a sad decision to cancel the city’s traditional Remembrance Day events, but it is the right decision.

“With the threat of COVID-19 still very much in our city, we must do all we can to protect people, especially the vulnerable, and support the brilliant efforts of our NHS and care workers. We must keep to social distancing guidelines and do all we can to prevent the spread.

“However, as a city of peace and reconciliation, we are determined that COVID will not prevent us marking the day and honouring those who gave so much.

“We know that many will be disappointed, but sadly this is a decision we must take and we hope that people across Coventry will join us online so we can still stand together as a city and remember.”

The programme will run on Sunday 8 November from 10.50am -11.15am and will include the national Two Minute Silence, playing of The Last Post, a reading of The Kohima and the laying of wreaths. It will be broadcast on BBC CWR and online via the Council and BBC CWR websites.

Leader of the Council, Cllr George Duggins, said: “Coventry is very proud to be a city of peace and reconciliation and Remembrance Day and the anniversary of the Blitz are rightly so important to so many in our city – and always will be.

“Sadly, today people around the UK and the world are facing the common threat of COVID-19 and like other cities we have been forced to cancel the traditional City Remembrance services we hold so dear. It may be a different event, but the message of remembrance will be as strong as ever and I hope people will join us to pay their own personal tributes and support that of the city.”

The Bishop of Coventry, the Right Reverend Dr Christopher Cocksworth, said: “In these Covid times, it is as important as ever that Coventry remembers those who gave their lives to keep us safe and also commemorate the day when our city suffered such devastation, but emerged with a desire to spread a message of peace and reconciliation.

“This year we will not be able to stand side by side in the War Memorial Park, but we can still be together in spirit and remember, and show that we will honour their sacrifice by continuing our work for peace.”

Gordon Garland, President of the Royal British Legion and Poppy Appeal Organiser, said: “This decision was not taken lightly, but we are afraid it had to be taken. Over recent months, people in Coventry have worked so hard to keep one another safe and this is just one more sacrifice we have to make.

“We would urge all serving and ex-service personnel, those with relatives who have served, and the whole city, to join what will be a very moving tribute.”

Jim Ramsey, Chairman, Coventry Standard Bearers, added: “Unfortunately we are forced to hold a different commemoration to the one we would like, but taking this decision means we can all still pay our respects and be together in the best and safest way we can. Please join us and honour those who served and continue to serve to keep us safe.”

Wreaths will be on display all-day on Remembrance Sunday at The Cenotaph in the War Memorial Park and London Road.

Editor of BBC CWR Gareth Roberts said: “We hope by recording and broadcasting this important act of remembrance we will help the people of Coventry watch and hear the ceremony safely and enable them to pay tribute to those who gave so much.”

People who wish to visit, lay their own tributes and pay their respects in person, are asked to observe current Government and Public Health guidelines around COVID-19 and to respect the safety of themselves and others in the park.

For more information, please visit the Coventry City Council website.