Great Ayton Remembers the sacrifice of its Great War men
When I joined a ceremony for Great Ayton to remember those who died in the Great War of 1914 to 1918, I was struck by how many people had come to commemorate two men whose lives have now passed beyond living memory.
But people in Great Ayton are determined that these men should not be forgotten. Passing through the crowd, asking what people thought, again and again, I was told that it is important to remember these men’s sacrifice; that we wouldn’t be where we are today without them; that they went through horrors, and we owe it to them to remember that.
So, along with the family of one man, who treasure his medals, photographs, and other fragments of his life, were historians who had researched the life not only of the man who still had family to remember him, but also of others, who are remembered only by folk who share their lives by living on the same land that they once trod.
This is because the people of Great Ayton have determined that, rather than let the losses of the Great War of 1914 to 1918 slip out of memory, they will commemorate each man, individually, on the centenary of the day he died.
The ceremony includes the usual Remembrance prayers, but also a presentation about the man, researched by a team of local historians. They discover as much as they can about his life – often a tragically short life. But by finding out where he worked, who his sisters were, what clubs and societies he joined – and how and where he ended, it brings him, if only for a brief moment, back to life in the minds of those who think of him.
This four year Remembrance project is jointly organised by Great Ayton Parish Council, the Church, and the History Society.
Find out more at Great Ayton History Society
Read all about it in Dalesman Magazine, November 2015