Randalstown commemorates the Somme

Willie Simpson and Robin Murray with the 1914 commemoration cross at the Memorial Garden in Randalstown. INAT10-407AC

Willie Simpson and Robin Murray with the 1914 commemoration cross at the Memorial Garden in Randalstown. INAT10-407AC

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The Randalstown Branch of the Royal British Legion as an Act of Remembrance for the brave men from the district who volunteered and fell in the Great War, erected a ‘poppy’ cross in their memorial garden earlier this year.

The branch suggested that descendants of these men and local businesses might wish to sponsor a poppy to be placed on the cross in their memory and the response was amazing with all the poppy spaces being filled within seven weeks.

250 poppies now adorn the cross and a marvellous sum of almost £2000 has been donated to the British Legion to allow the work that they carry our mainly on behalf of ex-service and their families to continue.

The Randalstown Branch are now holding a Community and Fun Day event at Neillsbrook to highlight the commemoration.

First at 7.00pm on Friday, July 18 is an exhibition of WW1 memorabilia and photographic display of Randalstown in the early 1900s with particular reference to the military training camp at Dunmore. Followed at 8.00pm with a talk by local WW1 historian Mr David Gourley on the men of Randalstown and the Great War- both events are being held in the Community Centre.

On Saturday, July 19 from 1.00 to 3.00pm on the Neillsbrook Pitches are sample coaching sessions of rugby, hockey and football, amusements, face painting and balloon sculpting.

There will be displays by the Cadet Services with Scouts and Guides, military vehicles including a ‘Teddy Bear Hospital’ by the RAMC where children can have their favourite toy bandaged and checked over.

The music during the afternoon is by the NI Concert Band as well as the contribution of the exhibitions in the Community Centre.

Saturday culminates with a ‘Drumhead Service’ following a British Legion parade led by Ulster Scots Juvenile Pipes and Drums band with the Salute taken by the Lord Lieutenant of County Antrim.

The service conducted by clergy of all denominations will re-enact those held by the Army in the field during conflicts and will end with a parade to the Memorial Garden for an Act of Remembrance and wreath laying.

The Randalstown Branch hope as many families as possible will come along both to enjoy the events and to learn what the British Legion is doing.

The Commemorations will continue on August 4 in the memorial garden when a candlelit vigil will be held to mark exactly 100 years since the declaration of War at 10.00pm.

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