Monday, 10 November 2008

Part of a Community

Now I know that I was going to talk about our new pub and the team etc etc - but I just HAVE to tell you about yesterday here in Salcombe. It was of course Remembrance Sunday, and in common with most of the UK and indeed abroad - the fallen heroes of many wars were remembered.

As a Portsmouth girl born and bred - I have been to many similar services, growing up near the Naval Dockyard it was hard not to be involved in such things. I've seen ships go out to the Falklands - and I've seen them come back, some with men that didn't return and ships that had been damaged in the conflict as well. But in everything that I've witnessed in Portsmouth, I have never witnessed a service as moving as the service held here up on the top of Salcombe town yesterday.

Firstly. it was the windiest day imaginable (although mercifully the rain held off for the service)and the sea behind us was as rough as rough could be - the little boats moored out were bouncing around like corks, the seagulls were cackling and seemingly enjoying the freedom of riding on the wind, and the few trees around were bending as if in movement with the wind.

At 10.00 the street and square opposite the pub was filling with men in uniforms and medals, dignitaries in suits and bowler hats, ladies in their hats. The RNLI was assembling in their mufti as were the Fire Brigade and Police etc. Lots of young children and families as well. There was the most amazing atmosphere - certainly not one of a party but of a quiet pride in the event about to happen. I took my place up by the memorial and was pleasantly surprised to be welcomed by people who I already knew by sight. At the appointed time the march past started and up the hill they came - the elderly wearing their lines of pride on their faces as well as the medals on their chests.......... not quite a march more of a dignified walk (its a gentle hill - but I can imagine not quite so gentle when in your 80's!) accompanied by not quite a marching band but music from a radio - and that was the start of the most touching, compassionate, deeply moving services it's been my privilege to attend.

The pride of those taking part was palpable - the air of remembrance held heavy as faces old, lined and weathered looked out to sea and clearly remembered other times and comrades no longer here. The vicar spoke clearly against a howling wind and hymns were sang with as much gusto as possible. Many wreaths were laid - and all sections of the community were represented - but what tipped me over the edge were two things - the maroons to signify the start and end of the 2 minutes silence - the sound of them resonated around the hills and coves......... the hairs on the back of my neck stood to attention! Then the fabulous old gentleman resplendent in uniform playing the Last Post on his bugle - barely enough puff to make it - but he did! That was it - tear drops fell on to my cheek!!

Then I realised in one single moment - we are now part of a community........... hardly any holiday makers here at this event- just good, decent Salcombe people remembering their loved ones, and we are now part of that community!

Thank you Salcombe - we love you....x

1 comment:

Chris said...

This was touching. I'm originally from the town (another escaped local!) and this year for some reason I felt more removed than ever from the symbolism of the poppy / remembrence thing. I think because of this blessed war in Iraq and the whole lying bunch of shits for politicians that brought this misery on us and them.
But reading this re-awakened the sacrifice of so many for the greater cause.
We had no real choice in both wars but to fight.
And fight they did.
I often think Salcombe has lost its sense of community, but reading this makes me feel that the community I once knew may have changed, but it's still a community, That counts for a lot.
Cheers.