Picture Gallery: Priory Park ceremony marks 100 years since first world war

PRIORY Park fell silent to mark the centenary of the start of the first world war.

People from across Chichester gathered in the picturesque setting for a solemn occasion – to pay their respects to the men who fought for their country.

All prepared for the gun salute.14LAAUG3  a -7 PPP-140308-185055006

All prepared for the gun salute.14LAAUG3 a -7 PPP-140308-185055006

A drumhead ceremony on Sunday (August 3) was conducted by the Rev Canon Simon Holland, who was pleased to see residents go along and show their support.

“It’s wonderful to see people of all ages,” he said.

“There were veterans and cadets as well as men and women currently serving in the forces.

“This is a very solemn occasion, but a very important one, too, because we all have members of our family – fathers, great-grandfathers and mothers – who were involved in, and affected by, the first world war.

“The organisers of the service did a great job, and we were also blessed by beautiful weather.”

Chichester resident John White, 78, served in conflicts across the world including Northern Ireland and North Africa.

A secretary of the Chichester branch of the Royal Sussex Regimental Association, he helped organise the event, along with the Friends of Priory Park and the support of Chichester City Council.

“The gun was very effective – it was certainly a sharp awakening –and the Chichester City Band did a great job, as usual,” said John.

“The turnout was rather disappointing, though. A lot of youngsters weren’t here because of school holidays – but that’s understandable.

“It would have been nice to have a larger number of people turn up, but the parade did go very well.”

The Rev Holland led the proceedings with hymns and prayers, before the park fell silent in memory of those who lost their lives.

A gun salute followed the two minutes’ silence.

Mayor of Chichester John Hughes said: “The reverend did a brilliant job, and it was really nice to see people old and young, and those still serving, in attendance.”

Resident Rosemary Finlayson took along medals and memorabilia owned by her father and husband, who served in the first and second world wars, respectively.

The 86-year-old proudly wore her husband’s medals while showcasing the items to members of the public.

“My husband served from 1938, for some 22 years, and my father was badly injured in the first world war – he lost his eye.

“The service was very moving.”