Between 2014-2018 and the 100th anniversary of the First World War (WW1), Ashford Borough Council hosted many commemorative events to remember and honour the bravery of those who fought, lived and died during this momentous event.
The council worked closely with a wide range of organisations to mark the centenary, and events included remembrance services, theatre and creative performances and educational programmes.
Thursday 1 August 2019 will be the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the Mark IV Tank in Ashford.
Ashford was one of 265 places across the UK that was awarded a tank after the end of the First World War because of its generous purchasing of war bonds. Now, it is the only surviving example of tanks delivered for this purpose on public display, and only one of seven original, surviving examples in the world. It is also Grade II Listed and a Registered War Memorial.
The 100th anniversary will be celebrated with an event in Ashford town centre in early August. Please refer back to this page nearer the time for confirmed details of the event.
11 November 2018 was the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Armistice, which signalled the end of the conflict. Ashford Borough Council staged 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.
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 remaining 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.
On Sunday 11 November 2018, Ashford took part in the national commemorative event, Battle's Over: A Nation's Tribute, where beacons were lit around the country and church bells rang out to signify peace, in tribute to millions who gave their lives or returned home wounded during or after the dreadful darkness of four years of war between 1914 and 1918.
The event was formed of a drum head service, accompanied by music performed by The Band of the Princess of Wales' Royal Regiment, and culminated with the first lighting of the new Ashford Civic Beacon.
As well as a service of remembrance in the Memorial Gardens at 11am and the lighting of the Civic Beacon at 7pm, Ashford also unveiled its pièce de résistance: a beautiful poppy tribute in North Park (adjacent to the Civic Centre).
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. The poppies were purchased by Ashford residents, with a percentage of the sale being donated to the military charity, SSAFA. In total, £5000 was raised.