Like many on Sunday, I took part in an act of remembrance and it was particularly significant being the 100th anniversary.
As I stood in the watery sunshine by the war memorial at St Mary’s Church, Funtington, it was hard to imagine the huge sense of relief that must have been felt by so many who marked the end of the First World War at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.
For many, though, the relief must have been marked by great sadness at the deaths of so many. So it is a fitting tribute to the many who died in that war and wars since then, that we commemorate those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
The 100th anniversary has been marked in so many ways this year culminating in the last month with tremendous poppy displays including at our Record Office. Poppies were lovingly made by members of staff and volunteers – those who care and look after our precious records of days past.
At the end of the War our freedom was maintained but also greater freedoms were brought with the Act of Representation. Incredibly many men who went to valiantly fight in the First World War were not eligible to vote as they did not own property, and of course at that time women were not allowed to vote either. As a result, the number of men eligible to vote went from 5.2 million to 12.9 million and the female vote amounted to 8.5 million. So the ending of the First World War also ushered in a welcome period of social change too.
There were a variety of afternoon and evening events arranged across the county, many including the lighting of beacons. In Bosham, before the beacon was lit, a local choir sang a selection of war songs to a church packed full of residents young and old - some even with their dogs. The sense of a community coming together to respectfully celebrate the centenary of the dawning of peace and new-found freedoms bounded round the church walls as everyone joined in with “We’ll Meet Again”. It was a very special moment for me to be part of a community united in peace with itself, to commemorate a peace long-prayed-for 100 years ago.