Joint statement from the Brockenhurst Branch of the Royal British Legion and Brockenhurst Parish Council, 21st October 2020
Remembering those who served this country in conflict, and especially those who sacrificed their lives or endured suffering, is a key part of our beliefs. Events take place in Church services and around war memorials across the nation, particularly around 11th November and Remembrance Sunday which falls on 8th November.
This year though, with the need to socially distance, collective commemoration and Remembrance is difficult. Safety is uppermost in our minds and circumstances are different, not least a requirement to take names and addresses of all those who attend - those taking part and the public alike. This is to enable contact tracing if necessary.
In Brockenhurst villagers traditionally gather at the War Memorial in Sway Road at 11am on the Sunday after a parade and march from the Church service. Unfortunately under Government guidance, by taking reasonable measures to limit the transmission of the virus, a parade will not take place as these are strongly discouraged.
The War Memorial Gardens are restricted to public viewing from mainly one side of the memorial. Understandably people tend to crowd in order to witness the laying of wreaths and other ceremonial elements and to hear the spoken words. The need to record personal details of everyone present under the Government's rules for the event is an additional problem.
The issues have been discussed. Along with other towns and villages we are not alone in deciding that the public commemoration poses unacceptable safety risks. The two-minute silence will still be marked, in private, perhaps accompanied by the national event which is shown on television.
The preceding Church service will go ahead with limitations such as social distancing and no hymns to suppress the possibility of COVID transmission. Entry is by ticket from the Church, but the service will also be relayed outside in the grounds for those who want to attend and socially distance.
A small event at the War Memorial will take place at 11am on 11th November as usual, limited inside the fence to 27 participants according to current rules and risk assessment. This is not a 'public' event.
The War Memorial Garden gate is open and, if local people want to make private visits, they are welcome.
Many will wish to join the two minutes silence both on the Sunday and 11th November. The people whose names are recorded on our War Memorial and others across the nation gave their lives for the freedoms we have today. Though we should all stay safe, it is important the sacrifice is remembered this year and always. Indeed, we encourage private moments of remembrance and reflection, for example by asking you to stand outside your own house in a similar vein to the Clap for Carers tribute.