A beautiful and unique memorial bench has been situated in pride of place at Beverley’s Flemingate centre.
The bench was inspired by the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War and was created as a lasting memorial to the fallen servicemen and women of East Yorkshire and was installed in a ceremony involving senior local servicemen.
It was auctioned at the recent Beverley and District Chamber of Trade Annual Ball in memory of the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War and 100 years since for formation of the RAF. The event was held in aid of East Yorkshire Branch of SSAFA – the Armed Forces charity.
Made from wrought iron, the individually designed bench was created and donated to the fundraising effort by Sherburn Forge. It was one of a number of items kindly donated by local businesses and individuals to be auctioned at the event, which raised £6,800 to help needy veterans, service personnel, reservists, their families and dependents in the region.
Leanne Marshall from Hunter’s Estate Agents in Beverley organised the ball on behalf of the Chamber and was instrumental in forming the commemorative theme around the many forces anniversaries in 2018, which culminated in the idea for the bench.
It has been positioned in pride of place at the popular town shopping centre, close to the children’s play area which is overlooked by the imposing Minster. Colonel Andrew Kennedy, Commandant from the Defence School of Transport at Leconfield, along with Squadron Leader Nick White and Major Keith Robertson, attended the site to give it their military blessing.
Colonel Kennedy said: “At the Defence School of Transport we were both proud to mark the 100th anniversary of the Armistice last year, and humbled by the scale and extent of the sacrifice of our forebears.
“It was an absolute pleasure to see the commitment of the wider Beverley community to the commemorations, including in this case the Beverley Chamber of Trade and our local SSAFA branch. The celebrations for RAF100 brought home to me just how profound is the support for the military in East Yorkshire; this bench is a very public demonstration of that sentiment.
“On behalf of all the staff at the School I would like to thank the people of Beverley for their hospitality towards, and sustained support of, this country’s Armed Forces.”
Beverley Building Society won the bench at the Chamber ball auction and Chief Executive Karl Elliott explained why they are so delighted to see it take pride of place at a local landmark, for everyone to enjoy.
“As the only independent building society in East Yorkshire, playing our part in enhancing the life and culture of our community is hugely important to us,” he said.
“That’s why we were delighted to purchase this beautiful piece of craftsmanship and our team who attended the ball just felt it was a very fitting tribute for us to pay to our hometown. The fact that the money raised will have a direct, positive impact on people’s lives in our region just makes it even more special.”
Michael Menzies-Baird, Chairman of the local SSAFA branch, said: “We raised over £6,800 from the commemorative ball, the most the charity has ever raised in one night. It was an amazing example of what can be achieved when a number of fantastic local businesses work together to make something great.
“We’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who was involved in that.
“Every penny raised goes to help the families of both veterans and serving personnel via the local branch of SSAFA and we have, as a result, been able to help a number who were and are in real need, including one whose home was badly damaged.”
SSAFA is the UK’s oldest national tri-service military charity. Its mission is to ‘relieve the suffering and distress amongst the Armed Forces, veterans and their families in order to support their independence and dignity’.
Graham Tait, Flemingate Centre Manager, said: “Flemingate is absolutely passionate about contributing to the vibrancy of town life and we’re delighted to be able to provide a home for such a memorable and poignant artwork. We hope the memorial bench will provide an enduring focal point to the servicemen and women of East Yorkshire for years to come.”
Photos: The memorial bench, back from left, Major Keith Robertson, Colonel Andrew Kennedy, Squadron Leader Nick White, Michael Menzies-Baird; front Karl Elliott.