At the event, members of the public will be provided with battery operated tea lights to place on the graves of the fallen which will be followed by a short service of Remembrance.
The Candlelit Christmas Remembrance was the inspiration of local woman Benji Walker who had seen images of CWGC cemeteries in Europe lit by candlelight. Benji said:
I feel it’s as important today as it was at the time to recognise the sacrifice of those who gave everything to serve this country.
The Candlelit Christmas Remembrance is a chance for the local community to gather to remember the sacrifice of the hundreds of CWGC casualties buried at Stonefall, many of them thousands of miles from home.
Benji Walker, who has a son serving in the Yorkshire Regiment, will be using the event to raise money for the Commonwealth War Graves Foundation and Help for Heroes. Members of the public can sponsor a candle with the profits being split between the charities (Crowdfunding to Candles for Heroes is organising a Christmas Remembrance Candlelight Vigil at Stonefall Cemetery, Harrogate on 19th December 4pm. on JustGiving). A collection will also be taken at the event.
With over 1,000 Commonwealth war graves, Harrogate (Stonefall) Cemetery is one of the largest CWGC sites in the North of England. The majority of burials are airmen who died during the Second World War when bomber command bases were established across Yorkshire. Over 600 of the casualties served with the Royal Canadian Air Force and they include two seventeen year-olds.
CWGC Public Engagement Coordinator, Elizabeth Smith, said:
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission cares for 170 000 war graves from both World Wars at more than 12,500 locations in the UK. The Air Force plot at Stonefall Cemetery is unique in the North of England due to its size and resemblance to our sites overseas.
At the end of the Second World War local people were encouraged to adopt the war graves of the Canadian servicemen and lay wreaths on behalf of their families at Christmas. The Candlelit Christmas Remembrance gives local people a chance to reconnect with their history and pay their respects to the fallen.
Those wishing to attend the service are advised to dress warmly, wear a solid shoe and bring torches. The meeting point is the war graves plot adjacent to Forest Lane. Parking is available in the cemetery car park off Forest Lane.
- About the Commonwealth War Graves Commission: We honour and care for the men and women of the Commonwealth forces who died in the First and Second World Wars, ensuring they will never be forgotten. Funded by six Member Governments, our work began with building, and now maintaining, cemeteries at 23,000 locations all over the world.
- Today, over a century after we first began, our work continues through our staff, supporters and volunteers who preserve our unique cultural, horticultural, and architectural heritage and ensure that the stories of those who died are told.
- About the Commonwealth War Graves Foundation: The Commonwealth War Graves Foundation is the charitable arm of the Commission. It aims to engage and educate people – especially the young, with the work of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, and tells the inspiring stories of the men and women who died whilst fighting in the two World Wars.
- The Foundation is a small and developing charity funded by donations, sponsorship and public support, and offers a programme of innovative educational and engagement activities and volunteer programmes.