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Clitheroe Castle Vigil to Mark Centenary of The Somme

Published Thursday, 23 June 2016

Residents and youngsters from across Lancashire are to take part in a vigil at Clitheroe Castle on 1 July marking the centenary of the Battle of the Somme.

Over 50 out of 100 places on the vigil have already been booked, including by civic leaders, representatives of the Royal British Legion and Bowland High School near Clitheroe.

The vigil will be led by Ribble Valley Mayor Joyce Holgate, whose father, Thomas Henry Lawless, fought at the Somme with the 1st East Lancashire Regiment.

Fought between 1 July and 18 November 1916, the Somme was one of the bloodiest military battles in history, claiming the lives of thousands of young Lancashire men. On the first day alone, the British suffered 58,000 casualties and by the end more than 1.5million men had lost their lives.

Participants at the vigil will pose on a plinth in the stance of Clitheroe Castle’s Unknown Soldier, who occupies a prominent position overlooking the town, his head bowed in the direction of the Western Front.

Joyce Holgate said: “The Battle of the Somme had a profound impact on Lancashire people and the loss of life was devastating, with 1,000 young men losing their lives from Ribble Valley alone.

“For many, the Somme epitomises the horrors of the First World War, while for others it symbolises the bravery and sacrifice of our young men and their communities.

“My father fought at and survived the Somme, and his recollections of life in the trenches were graphic. The horrors he witnessed and endured were unspeakable, and the death of his younger brother, Francis, at Gallipoli was devastating.”

People of all ages from across Lancashire are invited take part in the vigil, as families, individuals, representatives of local organisations, school pupils, ex-service men and women, and current serving soldiers.

At 7.30am, a whistle will blow marking the start of the vigil, just as it did 100 years ago when solders went ‘over the top'. But instead of going into battle participants will be able to stand on a plinth next to the Unknown Soldier for two minutes as a personal mark of respect.

At 7.30pm, the end of the vigil will be marked with a reading of Lancaster-born Laurence Binyon's poem 'For the Fallen' and the sounding of the Last Post.

The vigil will be filmed by artist Andy Farr, who will be working with school pupils to create artwork inspired by the lives and experiences of teenagers during the First World War for an exhibition at Clitheroe Castle from 29 October to 29 January called Lost Generation.

Lancashire residents who want to take part in the vigil are asked to register their interest without delay at the Clitheroe Castle Museum on 01200 424568.

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