Leeds falls silent for Remembrance Day

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The bustling streets of Leeds city centre fell silent as thousands gathered to pay tribute to those killed in the service of their country.

Sombre observers both young and old spoke in hushed tones as a procession of ex-servicemen and women and members of various service organisations, marched into Victoria Gardens in front of Leeds Art Gallery.

Six-year-old Harvey Roberts with his great-grandad Bill Ramsey

Six-year-old Harvey Roberts with his great-grandad Bill Ramsey

The event was one of several Remembrance Day services held across the city today.

And in addition to the civic dignitaries laying wreaths at the city centre war memorial on behalf of the people of Leeds were local families whose lives have been shattered by the loss of loved ones who have bravely gone into battle and not returned.

Jordan Adams, stepbrother of Signaller Wayne Bland, killed in Afghanistan in 2008 aged 21, said he felt proud to be able to publicly honour his memory.

The 17-year-old, who was accompanied by his mum Maureen and other family members, said: “He died defending his country and if it wasn’t for the likes of him we wouldn’t be living in peace like we are today.”

Throughout the crowds, the sunlight glinted off hundreds of medals pinned to the chests of former servicemen and women and their proud relatives as they braved the wintry chill.

John Reading, a former Bombardier with the Royal Artillery, Army Air Corps, bore the medals of both his father and uncle as well as his own General Service Medal.

The 88-year-old from Seacroft, whose father fought at Gallipoli in the First World War, said the turnout at the service had been “fantastic”.“

His daughter Patricia said: “It shows the appreciation and respect that so much has been given just so we could have our freedom – and we need to value it.”

Following the civic procession, Canon Charles Dobbin gave an address.

There were also readings from the Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh and Hindu faiths.

But for two minutes, as Leeds Town Hall clock struck 11am, a striking hush descended upon the usually noisy city.

Standard bearers raised and then lowered their flags as a bugler played The Last Post, then the hymn Abide With Me was sung, followed by the National Anthem.

Yesterday’s service was all the more poignant as this year marks the 100th anniversary of the start of World War One, 70 years since the D-Day landings and the end of Britain’s conflict in Afghanistan.

But it was clear from the number of children and teenagers tearfully looking on, that those killed and injured in more recent conflicts are equally in people’s thoughts.

Among those paying their respects was William Ramsay, whose great-grandson Harvey Roberts proudly wore his medals and those of his great-great-grandfather.

Mr Ramsay, who served in the 1st Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment from 1950 to 1962, said: “It’s very important to me to attend. We can never forget. I lost a couple of mates in Korea and Malaya.”

Steve and Angela Robinson, from Temple Newsam, laid a wreath for their son, Rifleman Ross Robinson, who died in a road accident on April 29, 2010. He had been discharged from a military rehabilitation centre just the day before. Hundreds also turned out for the first Remembrance Sunday service at the new £100,000 Bramley War Memorial.

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