With 2016 now upon us, a series of commemoration events is being planned to mark the centenary of the Accrington Pals’ devastating losses in the Battle of the Somme.
The bandstand in Oakhill Park in Accrington will host the first ever ‘Pals Prom’ on Armed Forces Day on June 25, with a Last Night of the Proms-style performance by the East Lancashire Concert Band.
This is the first event to be organised by the Accrington Pals Prom Group, a group of volunteers committed to ensuring the commemorations become a regular annual event for Hyndburn.
Anne Ellwood, who chairs the the Accrington Pals Prom Group, said: “Our group is working in partnership with the Royal British Legion and the East Lancashire Concert Band will perform - the same band that played when the Pals marched to war in 1916.
“The group has worked hard and we are now at a point where everything is picking up steam and getting busy, but hopefully we have done enough preparation so that it all runs smoothly.”
Mrs Ellwood added: “We will be happy if we can get a couple of thousand people to the event, as the purpose of the day is to celebrate and commemorate the Armed Forces Day.
“We are paying tribute to the Pals, but equally we are being respectful for those that died in other conflicts. It’s all very much about the armed forces, past and present.”
The day will start with family fun activities and stalls, with live music from local groups, and the prom will provide a grand finale to the day’s events.
The prom precedes the Accrington Pals Centenary Commemoration on July 1, the first day of the Battle of the Somme in 1916, in which 584 Pals were killed or injured.
The commemoration will take place at the Accrington Pals Memorial in Sheffield Woodland in Serre in France.
The Mayor and Mayoress of Hyndburn and Members of the Great War Society will attend the service conducted by Lay Preacher Judith Addison. There will be wreath laying and a presentation of Books of Honour to the Mairies of Bapaume and Puiseaux.
Mrs Ellwood said the group is now looking for support in delivering the inaugural events.
She said: “There are a lot of different ways that people can get involved, whether helping out on the day or volunteering to promote and support the prom in the run-up to it - really anything can help.
“The group would welcome any support as we actively work towards making this an historic day.”
The Accrington Pals Prom Group currently meets every month and are keen to involve the community. They are also looking for local businesses to contribute, and those interested are invited to contact Anne Ellwood on 07805 923075.
Public to have their say on the design of town square tribute
Hyndburn council is consulting on designs of a town square to commemorate the Accrington Pals on the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme.
Council bosses say the design will be developed later this year following consultation.
Coun Clare Cleary, cabinet member for town centres at Hyndburn council, said: “The design for the new town square, bounded by the Town Hall, Market Hall and the buildings opposite, will be developed during March to June, involving further opportunities for public consultation and involvement.
“We are looking to incorporate something innovative and creative to augment the existing Pals and WW1 memorials in the borough.”
The council announced it was working with the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment to incorporate a new town square as a ‘fitting tribute’ to the Pals in 2014.
Possibilities discussed so far include a stained glass window in the Town Hall, sculptures and stone carvings integrated into the landscape of the town square, aimed at telling interesting and diverse aspects of the Accrington Pals story that have not been considered to date.
While draft designs should be available by July, the council anticipates that the works will not begin until after the summer tributes.