Silence falls at interfaith Armistice Day in Hampstead
- Credit: Nigel Sutton
A two minute silence fell over a war memorial in Hampstead today as religious leaders, school children and the public came together to mark Armistice Day.
Monsignor Phelim Rowland, of St Mary’s Parish Church, Revd Diana Young, of Hampstead Parish Church, Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg of the New North London Synagogue and Muslim representative Shiekh Dr Muhammad Al-Hussaini gathered at the Whitestone Pond Hampstead War Memorial in North End Way this morning for an interfaith service to remember the dead, wounded and still active soldiers.
A large crowd listened as two readings from the Book of Psalms, a reading of the Memorial Prayer from the Prayer book issued to Jewish servicemen and women in the war and The Opening and The Quraysh for the Quran were recited.
Traffic was brought to a standstill as Manu Raffray, 14, a pupil at William Ellis School, played the Last Post and the Reveille on his trumpet.
Ariella Hart, Nina Fogherty, Zachary Norton and Gleb Ishchenko, four-year-olds from Hampstead Hill School joined dignitaries including Mayor of Camden Nadia Shah, Baroness Garden of Frognal, Superintendent Mike Hill and veterans, to lay wreaths at the memorial.
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Msnr Rowland, the celebrant, said: “It’s becoming more poignant, perhaps because people have a better sense of history. Being the centenary anniversary of the Battle of the Somme it’s lovely to see the kids here and hopefully this will be a memory for them as well.”
Sheikh Al-Hussaini said: “In these times of global divisions and suspicions it’s wonderful to see the faith communities and others in this neighbourhood that I live in coming together in solidarity in relation to the sacrifices that have been made in the course of freedom for us all.”
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Rabbi Wittenberg added: “Many people respect this day. One person said where the world is today it’s even more important to remember our shared values, the tragedy and loss of life and remember with gratitude those who died for the sake of freedom.”
Msnr Rowland, the celebrant, said: “It’s becoming more poignant, perhaps because people have a better sense of history. Being the centenary anniversary of the Battle of the Somme it’s lovely to see the kids here and hopefully this will be a memory for them aswell.”
Cllr Shah said the service was “beautiful, very special” and would “teach our children about the history of humanity and promotion of unity.”
Six years ago the crumbling memorial was restored with the help of two Royal Army veterans, Alexander Rudelhoff, 81, and Brian Keys, 79, who donated £24,000 after an appeal from Linda Chung, organiser of the event.
Mr Keys, who served in Malaya in the 1950’s, said: “She was asking for £11,000 so we said we’d pay the lot, thinking all she wanted was a cheque. But we had to form a committee, find out who owned the memorial, who the ground belonged to. It had been vandalised, all the seats destroyed. We met every Monday morning and by the end the sum had doubled.”
Ms Chung, from the Whitestone Pond Hampstead War Memorial Restoration Committee, said: “It’s wonderful that everybody gathered together in joint unity and the sharing of sorrows.”