Since 2014 and the 100th Anniversary of the start of the First World War, Ashford Borough Council has been dedicated to hosting and facilitating a number of commemorative events to remember and honour the bravery of those who fought, lived and died during this momentous event.
On the 4 August 2014, REME held a Dawn to Dusk Guard of Honour at Ashford’s Mark IV tank to signal 100 years since the outbreak of war and in November 2017, the town hosted a service of commemoration at the tank to mark the centenary of the Battle of Cambrai.
The council is working closely with a wide range of organisations to mark the centenary of the First World War (WW1) including remembrance services, theatre and creative performances and educational programmes.
On November 11 2018, it will be the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Armistice, which signalled the end of the conflict. Ashford Borough Council will be staging many events throughout this final year of commemorations, focusing on the theme of peace and reconciliation and the sacrifice made by those overseas and on the home front, both nationally and locally.
11 November 2018
On Sunday 11 November 2018, Ashford will be taking part in the national commemorative event, Battle's Over: A Nation's Tribute. As well as a service of remembrance in the Memorial Gardens at 11am and the lighting of the Civic Beacon at 7pm, Ashford will also be unveiling its pièce de résistance: a beautiful poppy tribute in North Park (adjacent to the Civic Centre). Please see below more details about this tribute and how you can play your part by purchasing a poppy.
Event timings for the beacon lighting ceremony and poppy tribute on Sunday November 11 2018 are below:
17:45 The Band of the Princess of Wales’ Royal Regiment
18:00 Ashford’s Poppy Tribute - a Drumhead Service with music by The Band of the Princess Wales’s Royal Regiment who will deliver a repertoire of famous tunes enhanced by synchronised lighting and poetry recitals
18:55 Battle’s Over - Last Post, Two Minute Silence followed by the poem, 'Tribute to the Millions'
19:00 Battle’s Over - World War One Beacons of Light: Beacons will be lit throughout the UK and the UK Overseas Territories including the Ashford Civic Memorial Beacon
19:05 Battle’s Over - Ringing out for Peace: Bells in Churches and Cathedrals will ring out in celebration of the end of the First World War
As this is an outdoor event taking place on grass, please wear appropriate clothing and footwear (especially if there has been some rainfall prior to the event as the ground could be wet and muddy).
Many parishes across the Ashford borough are holding their own beacon lighting events as part of the Battle's Over: A Nation's Tribute commemorations for the 100th anniversary of the Armistice. Details of these local beacon lighting events can be viewed by clicking on the link below. Please refer to your local parish website for full details of each event.
Taking inspiration from the hugely popular 'Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red' poppy installation at the Tower of London in 2014, 3,000 sculptured metal poppies were planted in North Park on Sunday 11 November to create a stunning visual display in honour of the 100th anniversary of the Armistice.
3 - 30 June 2018, Ashford Memorial Gardens, TN23 1RD
During the month of June, Ashford Memorial Gardens proudly played host to the internationally acclaimed Fields of Battle, Lands of Peace 14-18 photographic exhibition by renowned photographer Michael St Maur Sheil. This powerful and moving open-air exhibition tells of the healed scars of the First World War through our only remain witnesses: the fields of battle themselves. For more information about the exhibition, please visit the Fields of Battle, Lands of Peace 14-18 website.
The exhibition, staged in the peaceful and tranquil setting of Ashford’s Memorial Gardens, also included inspirational Ashford stories and photographs. These are based around the themes of increasing mechanisation, the role of women and the part played by our rural communities and give an insight into the sacrifices made by so many Ashford individuals both overseas and on the home front. These panels are currently on display in Ashford's Park Mall Shopping Centre.
On Thursday 9 August 2018 a commemorative paving stone was unveiled in the village of Charing to mark the 100th anniversary of Corporal Frederick George Coppins’ Victoria Cross award.
Frederick was serving with the 8th Canadian Battalion, 90th Winnipeg Rifles, when the award was given in recognition of his actions on the 9 August 1918 in Amiens, France, when he single-handedly took out a machine gun position that was annihilating his platoon, saving the lives of many men.
The paving stone was unveiled by Brigadier- General Lowell Thomas OMM CD, Defence Advisor at the High Commission of Canada, accompanied by Her Majesty’s Vice Lord Lieutenant of Kent and Mr Arthur Coppins, Nephew to Corporal Coppins.