City backs veterans' service after scaled-back event criticised
- Credit: Jessica Coppins
City folk came out in their droves to remember war heroes with many saying the council should be ashamed at scaling-back its official Remembrance Sunday service.
Norwich City Council did a pre-recorded ceremony in front of the war memorial on St Peters Street at 8am on Sunday with a small invited group of dignitaries and guests - but not any veterans - to be broadcast on its YouTube channel.
But more than 100 people, including many veterans, gathered outside City Hall at 10.30am for a moving service which included a march, hymn, religious passage, the ceremonial laying of poppy wreaths from various sections of the armed forces and the Last Post.
It ended with an applause from the general public, which included Norwich North MP Chloe Smith, who laid a wreath, and a thanks from veterans for their show of support.
Ms Smith said: "Today was very moving. I'm delighted that the veterans did organise the service. It was right they were able to do this at 11am and I was proud to be part of it."
Philip Gaywood, 72, from Long Stratton, said: "It is disgusting the council didn't have a march when everyone in London and other cities can. Without the sacrifice of past servicemen and women we wouldn't have what we have got today.
"The turn out today was brilliant."
Colin Wright, 62, from Costessey, whose uncle was a recipient of the military's Victoria Cross and Distinguished Conduct Medal, called the council's decision to not do a public display as a "disgrace".
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He said: "It can arrange for city hall to be lit up in different colours but cannot do this. I'm embarrassed to have it as our council."
Mr Wright added the decision to not hold it for the public was mad as thousands of Norwich City fans can get together to watch a match or take part in a parade.
Army veteran Callan Pye, 34, who served in the 3rd Regiment Royal Horse Artillery from 2007 to 2011 in Iraq and Afghanistan, reiterated the thoughts and labelled the council disgraceful.
And Mally Lamb, 71, from Norwich, said: "The council has no respect and morals. It can allow marches for everyone else but not those guys that were really important to Norwich and Norfolk."
Another Army veteran said Remembrance Sunday was very often the one chance veterans got to meet and remember past servicemen.
Alan Waters, leader of the council, said: "As with last year, this Remembrance event at Norwich War Memorial in the very heart of the city – while smaller in scale and for invited guests – was dignified and respectful.
"As the planning for our Remembrance event begins in the spring, we had to take into account the Covid caseload locally at that time, as well as the potential impact the colder months could have. We have been in touch with veterans groups since then regarding our difficult decision to have a scaled-back approach to avoid risk to all concerned."