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Planting a rose for peace as concert echoes special time of remeberence

PUBLISHED: 10:00 28 October 2015 | UPDATED: 10:00 28 October 2015

The Octagon Singers, performing in a special concert at the Octagon Chapel in Norwich.

The Octagon Singers, performing in a special concert at the Octagon Chapel in Norwich.

Archant

A peace rose will be planted in the gardens of the historic Octagon Chapel in Norwich during a moving and unique concert on Remembrance Sunday. And among those being remembered will be a former Luftwaffe pilot by the name of Hermann.

Hermann’s message of friendship

Dr Tovey’s mother Gwen had a long-standing German friend, Hermann, from before the war who was reluctantly drafted into the Luftwaffe.

On a raid of her home town of Swansea, he dropped the bombs over the Bristol Channel, was court-martialled, sent to the Russian Front, captured and was a PoW working in a coal mine in Siberia.

After the war his first letter to Gwen in 1946 said: “Such war is a terrible thing, the best friendship will be uninterrupted and peace will prevail.”

Keith will be read the rose poem in memory of all the citizens of Coventry, his parents....and Hermann.

The planting will be carried out by Dr Keith Tovey, past president of the Rotary Club of Norwich, whose father Norman was on air raid duty at the top of Coventry Cathedral almost 75 years ago when it was bombed by the Germans during a terrible night of death and destruction which killed more than 500 people and left much of the city in ruins.

His father escaped with his life and the next day wrote to his fiancée Gwen, who became Keith’s mother, saying: “The Coventry you know dear is no more. I have never believed it possible to see such a scene of indescribable ruin.”

Within the rubble a little rose 
was seen growing, prompting Neville Macauliffe to write the famous Rose Poem describing the events of the night and ending 
with the words which will be read by Keith at the service at the Octagon on Sunday November 8:

“Might you – perhaps in some shady corner, by chapel or oaken tree – somewhere pause, and think to plant...Another rose like me?”

Mary Rae received her award on Thursday.Mary Rae received her award on Thursday.

While Keith reads the poem, Judy Tovey will also play the first movement of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata during the service. That was the Luftwaffe code for the operation to bomb Coventry on that terrible night in November 14, 1940.

For some time now there has been a partnership between The Rotary Club of Norwich, one of the oldest in the country, and the Octagon Singers to give a concert in aid of the club’s annual charity.

This is it is especially poignant as it will be held on Remembrance Sunday in the presence of the Lord Mayor Brenda Arthur and Sheriff Beryl Blower. The first half will reflect a time to remember all victims of war and conflict while the second half of the programme is simply called Music for Everyday.

Money raised at the concert will go to the charity Rotary is supporting – Moving Memories – Dementia Reminiscence Project. Those taking part include the Octagon Singers, Keith and Judy Tovey, Tim Patient, Judith Farmer and Mary Rae.

The Octagon Chapel, Colegate, Norwich that s enjoying an increase in its Sunday congregation and more use by families. Photo: Steve AdamsThe Octagon Chapel, Colegate, Norwich that s enjoying an increase in its Sunday congregation and more use by families. Photo: Steve Adams

Earlier this year Mary Rae received a British Citizen Award which recognise the accomplishments of “everyday” people in society.

Mary was honoured for organising almost 300 concerts at the Octagon Chapel which have raised more than £150,000 for a huge collection of charities and good causes.

“We’ve got so many wonderful musicians and a wonderful venue, it is fantastic to have a platform to showcase these and help others at the same time,” she added.

The concert on Sunday November 8 starts at 3pm. Admission by programme costs £7, concessions £6, available from St George’s Music Shop, St George’s Street, Norwich, or at the door.

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