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Clitheroe Castle Somme Vigil Film Released

The Somme centenary vigil at Clitheroe Castle was led by Ribble Valley Mayor Joyce Holgate and attracted participants from as far afield as Scotland.
The Somme centenary vigil at Clitheroe Castle was led by Ribble Valley Mayor Joyce Holgate and attracted participants from as far afield as Scotland.
Published Thursday, 28 July 2016

Over 200 people from as far afield as Scotland took part in a vigil at Clitheroe Castle commemorating the centenary of the Battle of the Somme.

And now a film of the moving event has been released by artist Andy Farr.

The vigil was 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 posed 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.

“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.

“People of all ages from across Ribble Valley and Lancashire took part in the vigil, including families, individuals, representatives of local organisations, school pupils, ex-service men and women, and current serving soldiers.

“The turnout was fantastic, with people attending from across East Lancashire and as far afield as Scotland, and the feedback has been positive and heartfelt.”

Marcus Johnstone, Lancashire County Council's cabinet member for environment, planning and cultural services, said: "I'm delighted that so many people took part in the vigil.

"People of all ages came along to pay their respects both from the local area and other parts of the country.

"I'm sure that many were doing it to honour the memory of a relative who fought at the Somme and the horror they experienced.

"We must never forget the sacrifices that were made and the Lancashire commemorations are a part of this."

At 7.30am, a whistle blew 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 stood on a plinth next to the Unknown Soldier for two minutes as a mark of respect.

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

The vigil was filmed by artist Andy Farr, who over the autumn term will be working with Ribble Valley 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 October 29 to January 29 called Lost Generation.

Andy Farr’s time-lapse film about the Clitheroe Castle vigil is available at

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