Residents unveil Gidea Park First World War memorial after successful crowdfunding campaign
- Credit: Archant
A memorial funded by the community was unveiled in a special ceremony at the site of a First World War camp in Gidea Park.
The memorial to the First World War Artists Rifles Officer Training Camp in Main Road was unveiled at a ceremony on Saturday, July 13.
It stands on the site of the original entrance to Hare Hall and was unveiled by Robert Holland, a descendant of a recruit who passed through the camp.
Following a crowdfunding campaign for the memorial, a retired soldier donated £7,500 of the total £8,500 that was required to install the stone.
Romford MP Andrew Rosindell, pupils from the Royal Liberty School and members of the Parachute Regiment Association based in Romford, the Royal Air Force Association, Royal British Legion, Artists Rifles Association and Gidea Park Conservation Society members also attended the ceremony.
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Headteacher April Saunders said: "Over the last two years we have worked alongside [members of the association] to plant the event.
"Our DT department made caskets to hold soil from three of the battlefields where members of the Artist Rifles fell, three of our catering students served food and drink in their chef's whites and four of our Key Stage 4 students were involved in the ceremony to inter the soil in front of our memorial window.
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"It was fantastic for our school to be so closely involved in this moving and historic occasion."
Canon Lynne Bennett from St Michaels Church in Gidea Park gave a reading and prayer at the ceremony.
The memorial depicts a famous First World War painting by John Nash called Over the Top. Renowned poets Wilfred Owen and Edward Thomas also trained at Hare Hall and their poems are depicted on the memorial stone.
Romford MP Andrew Rosindell said: "The Hare Hall Rifles Camp was based at what is now the Royal Liberty School, so it is fitting we remember and honour all those who fought and gave their lives in WW1 fighting for King and Country.
"The unveiling of this memorial also reminds the future generations of Romford of those who sacrificed so much for their freedom and evokes the history of the armed forces in our community.
"This is shown every year by the enthusiasm displayed on Armed Forces Day with the parade through our town centre and the many young people in the area who are members of cadet forces for the Army, Airforce and Navy.
"I would like to thank all those whose worked so hard to raise the money to make the project possible, which will be cherished by local people and by future generations of young Romfordians."
The memorial project was inspired the class of 1982 from the Royal Liberty school.
They were taught about the history of the camp by Mrs Rogers, who died two years ago.
Caskets of soil from the battle field sites, Passchendaele, Marcoing and the Somme were brought over especially for the ceremony and buried in the Quadrangle garden.