A plaque dedicated to the people of Harrogate by Belgian refugees who spent time in the town during the First World War will be unveiled by the country’s Consul at a special ceremony this Sunday (20 November 2016).
M Bruno Marien will unveil the recently restored marble plaque in its new home in the Yorkshire Hotel in Harrogate. The plaque, given as a token of appreciation by some of the two hundred Belgian refugees displaced by the war, had actually been missing from the town until 2014, when it was discovered in a skip in Spofforth and found its way to local historian Margaret Power.
Margaret Power will join the Belgian Consul at the unveiling on Sunday, along with the Mayor of the Borough of Harrogate, Councillor Nick Brown, and the previous Mayor, Councillor Nigel Simms. A carpenter by trade, Councillor Simms has hand crafted the mount for restored plaque, which will sit, along with a story board, in the foyer of the Yorkshire hotel. The hotel has been chosen as, under the name of the Prospect Hotel at the time of the First World War, it was managed by a family of refugees called Elleboudt who had been hoteliers back in Belgium and who forged strong links with Harrogate during their stay in the town.
The Mayor of the Borough of Harrogate, Councillor Nick Brown, said:
We are delighted that the Belgian Consul M Marien is able to join us for the unveiling of the newly restored plaque; we don’t know a lot about where it’s been in the intervening years, but it is wonderful to know that it is now safely back on display in the town, representing as it does the gratitude of people who found the safety and support they needed a long way from home.
I would like to thank all the people who have donated the funds to make this possible, and those who have given of their craftsmanship to bring this plaque back to its former glory.