Remembrance 2020

              

NPT ‘Festival of Remembrance 2020’

Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day are very important days in our national calendar. On these days we remember and pay tribute to the men and women of the armed services who made the ultimate sacrifice in two world wars and more recent conflicts.

Normally events such as remembrances services, parades, displays and concerts are arranged locally and nationally. But, due to the coronavirus pandemic, both days were marked very differently in 2020 by way of an online Festival of Remembrance. We would like to thank everyone who helped provide content for these webpages.

In 2013, NPT Council and a number of partners signed an Armed Forces Covenant with the aim of supporting our armed forces community. All local authorities in Wales signed up to the Covenant and each identified an elected member to act as its Armed Forces Champion.

Neath Port Talbot Council’s Armed Forces Champion is Councillor Chris James. Councillor James joined the Royal Navy in 1990. While working in Naval Operations he served in Sierra Leone and Afghanistan before leaving in 2005 after being injured in service.

As Neath Port Talbot Council’s Armed Forces Champion, I’d like to thank you for joining us for this online Festival of Remembrance. A year ago, we all came together, side by side to show our respects and remember those men and women from all communities that sacrificed so much.

2020 has seen life change for us all as we work together to continue to fight this pandemic. What has not changed, and will never change, is our resolve and pledge to remember those who in two World Wars and conflicts since, made the ultimate sacrifice.

This year, despite the challenges of coronavirus, we have managed to mark significant anniversaries including the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, and 75th anniversaries of VE and VJ Day. The events would have stirred memories in those who lived through those times and lost family members. We can only now try to harness the same spirt you, and they, showed then to help us through what we are currently facing.

I would like to send out a special message of thanks to the many members of our current armed forces, regular and reservists, and the many veterans who have volunteered and are currently deployed in the fight against and keeping us safe from this awful virus.  They are demonstrating that, through the excellent training they received, they are a resourceful, adaptable, highly capable, resilient and dedicated to serving us all. 

Until a time when we are once again able to shake the hand of comrades, pat heroes on the back and not be embarrassed to shed a tear amongst the assembled crowds at community and commemorative events, please take just two minutes out of our socially distanced lives to remember those who sacrificed their lives for ours.

Thank you.

Cllr Chris James, NPT Armed Forces Champion

Normally, at this time of year, preparations would be well underway to mark these important days in our national calendar. The Mayor of Neath Port Talbot would have attended services and ceremonies and, once again, would have hosted a special Festival of Remembrance event at the Princess Royal Theatre in Port Talbot.

This year The Mayor of Neath Port Talbot, Councillor Scott Jones has recorded this video message as his contribution to these pages.

The sounding of the Last Post is a central part of annual Remembrance Services the length and breadth of the country. Following two minutes silences at 11am on Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day, the sound of a lone bugler playing the Last Post has come to symbolise the emotion and solidarity of a nation.

We are once again humbled to be able to share with you Mr Barry Woodley’s recording of the Last Post, the ‘Dipping in Salute’ Ceremony and sounding of Reveille filmed at his own home in Port Talbot. Barry is proud to be the official Standard Bearer of the Port Talbot Branch of The Royal British Legion.  He is also the Standard Bearer for the South Wales and South West Branch of the Type 42 Destroyer Association. As part of this organisation he represents 6 of the 7 frontline ships he served on in his 27 years in the Royal Navy, from joining at 16, to later achieving the rank of Chief Petty Officer.

This video also features readings from:

  • Pam Waite, Secretary - Port Talbot Branch of The Royal British Legion
    Pam was a WREN in the late 1960s. She became involved with The Royal British Legion as a way of giving something back in return for the support she and her late husband Clive had received.   In 2019 Pam was awarded a medal in recognition of her 30 years involvement with the Poppy Appeal.
  • Tommy Fellows, President - Port Talbot Branch of The Royal British Legion
    Tommy is a Veteran of the Royal Artillery AND has been a loyal member of The Royal British Legion and supporter of the Poppy Appeal for nearly 40 years.
  • John Bamsey Chairman - Port Talbot Branch of The Royal British Legion
    John is a retired Fire Fighter. Before joining the Fire Service he served our country in The Royal Marines.

The Royal British Legion is at the heart of the nation’s annual act of communal remembrance and the Poppy Appeal is central to it’s fundraising and awareness raising activity at this time of year.

As the UK’s largest Armed Forces charity, with 235,000 members, 110,000 volunteers and a network of partners and charities, The Royal British Legion provides support for our Armed Forces community wherever and whenever it’s needed.

Following the firebreak lockdown announcement by the Welsh Government, The Royal British Legion took the difficult decision to suspend face to face collections for this year’s Poppy Appeal here in Wales. Despite the absence of collectors in Wales, this year there are more ways than ever for you to get involved in the safety of you own home.

To find out more click here

“At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them”

Every year the nation unites to remember and honour those who sacrificed themselves to secure and protect our freedoms. Central to our acts of remembrance are the national two-minute silences on Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day. With all our lives affected this year by the coronavirus pandemic, pausing to fall silent on these days is something we can all try to do at home or on our doorsteps in order to reflect and remember.   #TwoMinuteSilence

Sunday November 8th

- Remembrance Sunday: Join the national two-minute silence at 11am 

The Welsh Government led Service of Remembrance will take place in a limited capacity closed ceremony this year. The UK Government led Remembrance Service at the Cenotaph will also be a scaled down closed ceremony. You can still watch and hear this on TV and Radio.

Wednesday November 11th

- Armistice Day (Remembrance Day) : Join the national two-minute silence at 11am

Armistice Day has been observed every year since 1919. So, pause, mute your phone and close your laptop for just two minutes and pay your respects to our Armed Forces community, past and present.

Deborah John - Training & Development Officer, NPT Council

In Memory of Corporal Dean Thomas John R.E.M.E

With thanks to…

Leigh Batchelor - Social Services

David James - Central Mailroom 

Sarah Joseph - Communities for Work

Leigh Harris - Streetcare Sevices

Adam Al-Fahdala - South Wales Trunk Road Agen

Neil Evans - Democratic Services

Deborah John - Training & Development

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.”

From "For the Fallen“ written by Laurence Binyon 1914

Prior to the two week lockdown in Wales, the Pontardawe Branch of The British Legion approached Reverend Gary Green to help conduct and record a wreath laying ceremony at the Cenotaph in Pontardawe.

This recording was posted on the Facebook page of St Peter’s Church, Pontardawe as part of a virtual service on Remembrance Sunday.  We are grateful to Reverend Green and Pontardawe Town Council for letting us share this recording with you.

Thank you to the Port Talbot Branch of The Royal British Legion for sharing their video of their socially distanced wreath laying ceremony at Talbot Memorial Park, Taibach.

The service was officiated by Father Ben Andrews of  St Theodore's Church and Mr Tommy Fellows, President of the Port Talbot Branch of The Royal British Legion.

Talented Neath singer and rising star Kirsten Orsborn is a familiar face at the Princess Royal Theatre at the Civic Centre in Port Talbot and would have taken centre stage again at the Mayor’s Annual Remembrance Concert. We are thrilled that Kirsten was able to record a mini concert for us as part of this year’s online Festival of Remembrance.

Kirsten Orsborn has been singing and performing since she was just 6 years old! Over the years she has performed up and down the country in Theatres, Concert Halls, Holiday Parks, Hotels, Cruise Ships and also The Royal Hospital of Chelsea.  In 2014 Kirsten was officially adopted by The Royal Marines as their new Forces Sweetheart.

On Remembrance Day 2018 Kirsten was ‘adopted’ as the new ‘Sweetheart’ of The Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal at an official ceremony in Swansea. She is also now a very proud patron of two charities based in Scotland; ‘Minds at War’ and ‘The Homeless Veterans Project’.  Kirsten toured Scotland in support of veterans October 2019, performing at Paisley Abbey and military barracks where she entertained serving personnel and retired veterans.

Last year Kirsten was invited to the Falkland Islands to sing for troops and retired veterans in support of the Liberty Lodge charity which helps veterans visit the Falklands to pay tribute to fallen comrades.

 

Funded by Neath Port Talbot Council, Cerdd NPT Music Service tutors pupils across all schools on a wide range of instruments.

Far from ‘blowing their own trumpet’ (pardon the pun), the Cerdd NPT team are among the most passionate and engaging music teachers in the country. The skills and confidence they pass on to pupils remain with them for life!  As we all know, it’s been a tough year for schools, teachers and pupils. During the first lockdown when schools were closed, Cerrd NPT kept in touch with students by running online tutorials.

Back in May, the Cerdd NPT team also did their bit to mark VE Day.

Click here to hear music teacher Lisa Rumble sing a classic Judy Garland favourite and her rendition of ‘We’ll Meet Again’ as a tribute to Dame Vera Lynn who we sadly lost this year. 

Cwmtawe Brass is a local brass band based in Pontardawe. All members live in Neath Port Talbot and most members have joined the band after gaining experience with the County Youth Brass Band and Cerdd NPT Music Service system. 

2020 has been a challenging time for Cwmtawe Brass. Shows, live performances and competitions have been cancelled and face to face rehearsals had to be too. Like many groups and organisations, the band found ways to get together and practice online.

Click here to hear (and see) their superb ‘socially distanced’ rendition of ‘One Voice’.

NPT County Youth Brass Band have recorded this ‘socially distanced’ performance of Evening Hymn and the Last Post.

It’s been especially arranged and conducted by Musical Director Wayne Pedrick who dedicated the piece to his uncle who served in the Welsh Regiment and fell in the Great War.

Private David John Evans from Brynamman was just 20 years old when he was killed in action in northern France on October 28th 1918, just days before the war ended.

NPT Youth Council and Class Act Theatre School from Pontardawe Arts Centre reading War by Hedd Wyn.

After growing up together on Pen-y-Cae Hill, Port Talbot, Will Thomas, Steve Harris and Jack Baglow were three ‘ordinary’ lads that joined up to serve their country in World War II and came back heroes. Each was drafted into different regiments, and served until the end of the war before, thankfully, returning home to their families.

It’s a story not unfamiliar to thousands of men and women across Britain, but what is unusual is that all three men were awarded the Military Medal for outstanding bravery.  Their stories are recollected below by two of their sons, David Harris and Brian Thomas.

Many thanks to NPT Heritage Education Officer, Harriet Eaton for producing this short video.

In 2018 Margam Country Park received a National Lottery Grant for a community heritage project to mark the centenary of the ending of the First World War.

The results of project titled ‘Lest We Forget’ were displayed at the park back in November 2018. As well as the Flower Festival and Poppy Tribute Wall, the project also featured a ‘Gallery of Local Heroes’ in Margam Castle.

Produced by Neath Port Talbot Libraries service it was a unique and precious tribute to men and women who served the country in the First World War. For this online Festival of Remembrance, we are proud to feature this ‘Gallery of Local Heroes’ as a document to look through at home.

It would not have been possible without the help and input of the people of Neath Port Talbot and surrounding areas. Also, a big thank you to Jonathan Skidmore, Port Talbot Historical Society and the Friends of Margam Park for their contributions.

NPT Heroes Gallery Exhibition 2020

There are many organisations that offer support to the Armed Forces Community. These include charities and Service or Regimental Associations that specialise in supporting current service men and women, veterans and their families.

The help and advice these organisations provide is wide and varies from financial advice, help with housing as well as physical and mental health matters.

Click here for more information as well as links and contact details.