Once again the British and many Commonwealth nations fell silent on Friday to mark Armistice Day and remember those who fought and died, as veterans and their families joined the military top brass at the Cenotaph in central London to pay their respects to those killed in conflicts since the beginning of the first world war.
Here on the Costa Blanca the four local services that took place over the weekend were not quite as grand but neither were they were quite probably far more personal.
The first, on Friday at a packed La Siesta Church in Torrevieja, was observed by the Torrevieja Branch of the Royal British Legion whilst on Sunday the RBL Branches at Gran Alacant/La Marina and the Orihuela Costa chose to hold their Remembrance Services, along with representatives of their communities, including many guests and local politicians. The final service took place in Campoverde on Sunday evening and was attended by many members of this pleasant village.
In Torrevieja. Friday’s service got underway at 10.15 am with the standards of the RBL and many other service organisations splendidly displayed as the Torrevieja Pipes and Drums led the march into the church garden area.
As they formed up in front of the church altar the service got underway with a prayer from Father Richard Seabrook , officiating chaplain, followed by the RBL Exhortation from Branch Chairman, Gerry Lynch and then, most significantly of all, the Last Post played by Ian Gibson of the JB Brass Band.
The lessons were read by Branch President Gill Burden and Carmen Morate the Torrevieja Councillor for International Residents. After the service the standards, followed by dignitaries and wreath holders, moved to the cenotaph located in the church garden area, where the wreath laying ceremony was led by Cllr Fanny Serrano.
Mil Palmeras saw the service and wreath laying ceremony attended by well over 300 people including members of the Costa Blanca Scooter Club who turned up on their splendid vehicles en masse to show their respect to the fallen.
The guests included the British Vice Consul Sara Mustlehelm, Chairman of the RBL Spain District North, Nigel Hails, Lt Col (Retd) Pete Lodge MBE and the son of the Branch Chairman, Flt Lt David Carter. They were joined by Francisco Morales, a serving officer in the Guardia Civil, local politicians Ignacio Ramos, the mayor of Pilar de la Horadada and the Orihuela Councillor for Tourism Sofia Alvarez.
Despite undergoing surgery only 5 days earlier the service was conducted by Branch Chaplain, Pastor Keith Brown. He was assisted by lay preacher Stephen Treseder while Nigel Hails and Branch member Sandie Coates read the lessons. Once again there was a moving A capella performance of ‘I Believe’ sung by long time RBL supporter Rebecca Holt.
With the non availability of the Phoenix Concert Band the music was provided by church organist Jennie Cooper.
Once again the last post was performed by Ian Gibson while the lament, ‘Lock Rannoch’, was played by piper Tom MaGill. The service was concluded with the National Anthems of Spain and the United Kingdom performed by pipers John Wilson and Tom MaGill
Following the service the ceremony then moved out to the Garden of Remembrance where the RBL, British Consul, Pilar de la Horadada Council, Orihuela and other Service Wreaths from the Royal Navy, the Royal Air force and Royal Marines Associations were laid, after which branch and members of the public added their own poppy crosses in memory of family members and lost friends.
Quite what the Costa Blanca would do without the wonderful Torrevieja Pipes and Drums I really don’t know but once again, led by Pipe Major Lillian Nicholson, the company were magnificently turned out in Mil Palmeras in support of the RBL and the local community.
The final act of the day saw them flanked by a large number of the general public as they led over a hundred and fifty members of the congregation from the church, past the assembled dignitaries, to the Mil Palmeras Olympia Restaurant where members and guests enjoyed a delightful buffet lunch.
Gran Alacant & La Marina Branch of the Royal British Legion, in association with the Ayuntamiento of San Fulgencio, also held their annual Service of Remembrance on Sunday.
This open-air service was held in the main square of San Fulgencio – the Plaza de Constitución. It was conducted in both Spanish and English, by a Catholic Priest, Father Jose Francisco, and an Anglican Priest, the Reverend Terry Baxter.
In attendance were Lieutenant Salvador of the Guardia Civil; Chief Martin of the Policia Local, and six councillors from both the ruling team and the San Fulgencio opposition. These included the councillor for European residents, Paulino Herrero.
They were accompanied by more than 100 local residents of both nationalities with the Last Post and Reveille played by John Atkins.
Following the service, wreathes were laid at the temporary altar, and were later transferred to the altar inside the parish church.
The branch meets at 6pm, on the first Monday of each month, at Amigos Bar, Avenida Escandinavia, Gran Alacant. For more information, phone Robin on 966 695 423 or Brian on 639 917 971; or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org