This is a press release issued by North Devon Council
Representatives from the Chivenor Military Wives Choir are making a special journey to sing at the Menin Gate War Memorial in Belgium on Friday 7 September.
Whilst there, the choir will be laying wreaths as a mark of respect to the British and Commonwealth soldiers who were killed in the Ypres Salient of the First World War and whose graves are unknown. The wreaths will include one on behalf of North Devon Council, as a way of thanking Councillors who provided the choir with a Community Grant of £1,250 last year. Councillors Barker, Biederman, Brailey, Croft, Davis, Fowler, Haywood, Jones, Luggar, Mathews, Meadlarkin, Moores and Roome all contributed towards the grant.
The choir will also perform at a full concert on Saturday 8 September in the Het Peron Theatre in the town, alongside Emma Brown, Fiona-Jane Weston and Ensemble Cordon Bois. They were invited to Ypres by the director of the Tourist Information Board, who watched their performance at Laon Cathedral (Picardy, France) in June last year.
Leader of North Devon Council, Councillor Des Brailey, says: “Our councillors were very happy to donate some of their grants to the Military Wives Choir. We were honoured when they got in touch to offer to lay a wreath at the Menin Gate on our behalf. We wish them a safe journey to Belgium to sing and to pay their respects to the brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in support of freedom.”
Treasurer of the choir, Jane Batchelor, says: “It is a huge privilege to be invited to sing at the iconic Menin Gate. Many of us sang at the Thiepval Memorial (to the missing of the Somme) last year, and we are aware of the importance of keeping alive the memory of those who gave their lives so that we can enjoy the freedom we have today. The performance will be tremendously poignant and probably one of our most significant yet. We are honoured to be representing the people of North Devon on this solemn occasion.”
Between October 1914 and September 1918 hundreds of thousands of servicemen of the British Empire marched through the town of Ypres’s Menin Gate on their way to the battlefields. The memorial bears the names of more than 54,000 soldiers who died before 16 August 1917 and have no known grave and now stands as a reminder of those who died and is perhaps one of the most well-known war memorials in the world.
For further details about community grants and support available from the council or to make an application visit www.northdevon.gov.uk/grants. The council can also be contacted on 01271 388253 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about the Military Wives Choirs, please contact Jane Batchelor on 07899 964580 (Chivenor Military Wives Choir has no connection or affiliation with the Military Wives Choirs Foundation).
Photo shows (from left to right): Lisa Arnold, Ann Horstead, Cllr Sue Croft, Cllr John Mathews, Jane Scott, Cllr Ian Meadlarkin, Jane Batchelor, Sarah Farrelly, Cllr David Brailey & Katie McSweeney