A TWO-YEAR fundraising effort to erect a new memorial in Dewsbury Cemetery will be marked by a spectacular RAF flypast next Saturday (May 27).
The New Friends of Dewsbury Cemetery Group will welcome representatives of the armed forces to the unveiling of a new monument honouring 107 war veterans who are buried in the cemetery.
All the men died from their wounds, the majority of them in the Great War of 1914-18, although included on the new memorial will be Sgt John Willie Ormsby VC, a hero of the Western Front who survived the war but was laid to rest in his home town graveyard.
Members of Sgt Ormsby’s family will be in attendance when the memorial is officially unveiled by new Kirklees Council mayor Coun Christine Iredale and a representative of the Lord Lieutenant of West Yorkshire’s office.
The ceremony will begin at 2pm with guests and members of the public asked to gather at around 1.45pm. A flypast of Spitfire and Hurricane fighters, plus a Lancaster bomber from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, is scheduled for about 2.10pm.
With proceedings conducted by the group’s Geoff Greensmith, as well as a blessing of the memorial by Canon John Aveyard and laying of wreaths, there will be musical accompaniment from Nora Riordan and a piper.
The event will be the culmination of two years of hard work by the cemetery support group volunteers.
One of them, Christine Leeman, whose volunteering has involved everything from running online raffles and auctions to laying new turf with her sister Marina Hobson, paid tribute to everyone who had helped them reach their £8,000 target.
“We’ve had great support from so many people,” said Christine. “One Community (Kirklees’s community foundation) has given us a total of £1500, Sharon Kingswood and the staff at Asda have been fantastic, and we’ve had lots of help being shown how to get grants and raise money.”
The group even had to obtain a gambling certificate to run raffles and auctions, which included star prizes like helicopter rides.
“We ran a Facebook auction and had 144 prizes,” added Christine. “I thought my phone was going to set on fire, the response was so good.”
With interest and support coming from local cadet groups, the Royal British Legion and representatives of the county’s former KOYLI regiment, next Saturday’s event promises to be a memorable one.
“I wanted to invite the Queen,” said Christine, “but apparently she needs about 18 months’ notice.”
During the work leading up to finishing the new memorials – on land just below the steep slope by the former chapels – Christine met a woman for whom the event will be especially poignant.
Mrs Joyce Senior never got to meet her father, Private Percy Garthwaite, who died in 1943 when his wife was six months pregnant with their daughter. Pte Garthwaite is one of the men who will be commemorated on the new monument.