Organisers of a major event forming part of the borough’s historic Battle of the Somme commemorations have issued a plea for volunteers with just two days to go.
The ‘Falling’ performance piece this Thursday requires a total of 1,500 people to take part to recreate the March to the Front by the town’s soldiers the Accrington Pals.
People from all over Hyndburn are still needed to get involved as walkers and performers.
Gayle Knight, from organisers the Civic Arts Centre in Oswaldtwistle, said they need volunteers to make sure the event - set to be covered extensively in the local and national media - does not look “lame”.
She said: “We are two days away from this event and I’m sad to say that we are woefully short of the number of people that we need to make it have impact. We couldn’t have done this half heartedly because we need people to remember and never forget.
“We have local and national papers, TV and radio descending on Accrington on Thursday night. We cannot let this remembrance event look lame. Now is the time for you to rally your friends, your families and your neighbours and to tell people to get involved in this. We need young people to understand what their ancestors went through and we need families to show their respects to their grandparents. We need communities to walk together side by side.”
The Pals’ March to the Front will take place on Thursday, June 30 with a series of community walks setting off from various locations across Hyndburn. The march will converge on Oakhill Park, culminating in visual art performance ‘Falling’ at 7pm, featuring local people representing the Pals.
Gayle admitted that the organisers had been “ambitious” in their hopes to get 1,500 people to take part.
But she added: “If we fail to give this event the impact that it deserves then we do apologise to the town and the area but right now we are still determined that it can happen in the way it should do.
“In 1916 the Accrington Pals walked 16 miles carrying 40lb rucksacks. We are asking you to walk less than four miles sharing the load of a rucksack. In 1916, 720 men went over the top and within 20 minutes 584 were dead or injured.
“We are asking you to take part in a 15-minute dramatic performance to represent that battle. We are asking you to experience and have a very small understanding of what the men went through.”
If you can get involved and support this event, please get in touch with Gayle Knight on 01254 398319 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, June 30
March to the Front from 5pm and Falling 7pm
Community walks from townships in the Borough, meeting at Oakhill Park. This will replicate the march of the Accrington Pals to the front on 30 June 1916. Part of this event is ‘Falling’- a visual art performance which will take place at 7pm in Oakhill Park, featuring local people representing the Accrington Pals.
Contact: Gayle Knight, Civic Arts Centre e-mail email@example.com or call 01254 398 319.
Pals Memorial, Church Street, Accrington – 9pm-10pm
The Royal British Legion, Accrington, joined by members of Accrington Pipe Band and Royal Artillery Band, will lead a candlelit vigil to remember the Accrington Pals and all those who fell on July 1, 1916.
All Saints Church and Mercer Park, Clayton-le-Moors - from 7.30pm
A vigil to mark 100 years from the eve of the Battle of the Somme will be held at All Saints Church. The service will be followed by the laying of a wreath at the War Memorial in Mercer Park at around 8.30pm.
Friday, July 1
Civic Commemoration, Pals Memorial, Accrington 7.20am
The Civic Commemoration will be a special version of the Annual Pals Memorial Service at the Pals Memorial, Church Street, Accrington, to mark one hundred years since the Pals went ‘over the top’.
There will be road closures in place from 7.15-8.15am on Church Street and Warner Street. Church Street closures will take place from the junction with Blackburn Road to the junction of Cannon Street. The Warner Street closure will take place from the junction of Bank Street to the junction with Church Street.
A similar service will take place at the Pals memorial in Serre, France at the same time, attended by the Mayor and Mayoress. The Civic Service in France will be streamed back to Accrington afterwards, to be screened in the Pals Room at Accrington Town Hall.
St John The Evangelist Church, Addison Street in Accrington 10.15am
Battle of the Somme centenary commemoration service with an act of remembrance in the Pals Chapel.
The church will remain open after the service until 4pm for anyone wishing to visit for private prayer.
Roll Call for the Accrington Pals, Broadway, Accrington Town Centre from 9am (all timings are approximate)
A to Butler 9.05am to 10am; Butler to Flegg 10am to 11am; Fleming to Howarth 11am to 12noon; Howarth to Moss 12noon to 1pm; Moulding to Short 1pm to 2pm; Shuttleworth to Wildman 2pm to 3pm; Wilken to Youngs 3pm to approximately finish 3.20pm
Contact: Gayle Knight, Civic Arts Centre. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01254 398 319.
Accrington rail station, 2.30pm
A commemoration led by the railway chaplain, Richard Cook, to remember the Accrington Pals battalion and also the railway staff who lost their lives in the Battle of the Somme. There will be readings and dedications, followed by a two-minute silence and the laying of wreaths and the blowing of a final whistle.
Contact: email@example.com,uk or call the council on 01254 388111.
Commemorative Concert - Accrington Town Hall 6pm-8pm
BBC Radio Lancashire’s live Somme Day Centenary concert, in Accrington Town Hall. All tickets are now allocated.
Saturday, July 2
Commemoration fair on Barnfield Street in Accrington, 10am to 1pm
Jointly organised by Benjamin Hargreaves primary school and St Paul’s Church, including tombola, bric-a-brac, face painting, bouncy castle and barbecue. Free entry and a donation will be given to Help For Heroes.
Tuesday, July 5, 3pm
The Ballroom, Accrington Town Hall
Commemorative Film in Memory of the Accrington Pals - £3 per person (Tickets limited to 100). Call the Box Office on 01254 380 293.