At last night’s (11 July) full council meeting in St Helens Town Hall Chamber, the Mayor of St Helens announced to members that the council will be supporting two poignant campaigns to commemorate the centenary of the end of World War One.
Organised by the Royal British Legion, ‘There But Not There’ and ‘The Silent Soldier’ projects aim to ‘commemorate’ those who died in the First World War; ‘educate’ today’s younger generation; and ‘heal’ today’s veterans who are suffering from mental health and physical wounds, by raising substantial funds through the sale of ‘Tommies’.
On entering the chamber before the evening’s proceedings got underway, members noticed a Perspex silhouette of a soldier sat in a chair to symbolise more than 1.1 million British and Empire service men and women that didn’t make it home.
The silhouette will be displayed at every full council between now and January 2019.
Meanwhile, as part of ‘The Silent Soldier’ campaign – a four-foot silhouette of a ‘Tommy’ soldier will be placed in each ward around the borough over the coming weeks as a tribute to those who gave their lives for their country, or returned home during or after the dreadful darkness of war.
An additional Tommy has been sponsored by the council to stand by the Steve Prescott Bridge, while Rainhill and Bold Parish Councils have also sponsored a Tommy each – taking the number of Silent Soldiers to be displayed in the borough up to 19.
Mayor of St Helens, Councillor Pat Ireland, said: “As Mayor of this magnificent borough which was home to many influential heroic figures during the First World War, it gives me great pleasure to announce that the council will be supporting these two moving awareness campaigns during the centenary year of the end of World War One.
“The Silent Soldier silhouettes are particularly touching because they symbolise a soldier on their long way home to their families after the war – and will be seen by thousands of residents across the borough.”
Showing her support to the campaigns, St Helens Council’s Armed Forces Champion, Councillor Lynn Clarke, added: “As a council, we are committed to supporting our armed forces personnel, past and present – so I’m delighted that we’re sponsoring these Tommies which will help raise funds for veterans who have given so much for our safety and freedom.
“Seeing the silhouette at this evening’s council meeting was an emotionally moving moment– and I’m very much looking forward to seeing the Silent Soldiers installed in our communities which will act as fitting reminders that their brave efforts will never be forgotten – and most importantly… we will remember them.”
Council Leader Derek Long said: “With this year marking 100 years since the end of one of the most important events in world history, we felt it necessary to mark this momentous milestone by getting involved with these worthwhile campaigns.
“I can’t begin to imagine for one minute what it must feel like to experience the depths of war, but supporting projects like these is a fantastic opportunity for us pay tribute to those who have.”