New war memorial to be dedicated in Long Itchington on Saturday
Fallen soldiers who lived in and around Long Itchington over the years will now be remembered at a central memorial in the village thanks to the efforts of a group of residents.
For years the village’s only main memorial was a wooden plaque at the Holy Trinity church.
But about four years ago a handful of villagers formed the War Memorial Long Itchington (WARMLI) group and set about getting a more visible memorial installed at The Green, on the corner of Leamington Road and Church Road.
WARMLI chairman Dave Berry and his wife Rhona - whom he credits as “the driving force” behind the project - got the idea for the memorial when their grandson asked where Long Itchington’s was while they were visiting war graves in France,
At the age of 18, Mr Berry’s father Charles was a stretcher bearer for the British Expeditionary Force when the first shots were fired of First World War at the Battle of Mons in August 1914.
So it was around 100 years after the start of the war that the memorial project began.
Mr Berry said: “My father found it very difficult to talk about the horrors he saw but I wish I had asked him more about those times when he was alive.“Thinking back to four years ago and now seeing the memorial in place I get very emotional.
“We went from thinking ‘that would be something that might be nice to have’ to really getting into it and we were so encouraged by the support we got.”
Villagers held many fundraising events ranging from large-scale functions including a golf day to raffles and tombolas to pay for the memorial.
Children donated from their pocket money and older people from their pensions to help boost the fund.Several groups and businesses in and around the area also contributed.
The fundraising effort made almost Â£39,000.
Villager Russ Mansfield carried out the research to find the names and backgrounds of the 52 fallen soldiers of whom all died in either the First or Second World Wars.
Space will be left to add other names in the future although WARMLI have said they hope this will never be needed.
The ground work for the memorial started in September.
Peter Hyde, a graphic designer from Southam, designed it.
A permanent record of the installation, from groundworks, laying of the stones and plinths through to the dedication service has been commissioned by young filmmaker Joe Gray.
The war memorial is currently fecned off and will be unveiled as part of the dedication service.
The service will take place on Saturday (October 27) from 1pm and will be led by The Rev Jane Everitt.
And on Remembrance Sunday (November 11) a service will take place at the Holy Trinity church from 10am and will be followed by a procession the memorial and a laying of wreaths at 10.45am.
Finally, at 6.45 pm as part of the national commemorations, there will be the lighting of a Beacon of Light on The Green including a short service.
The members of WARMLI have said: “We are very grateful for the tremendous support we have received from many, many, individuals and organisations in our community and from further afield and we hope many will be able to attend these commemorations and special events.”