Local church leaders gathered with hundreds of people at the War Memorial in the centre of Londonderry on Sunday morning, 14th November 2021, for a Remembrance Sunday service. The attendance was well up on last year’s, at which numbers were badly affected by restrictions introduced to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Among those who laid wreaths,. this morning, were the Queen’s Lord Lieutenant for the City of Londonderry, Dr Angela Garvey, and the Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Alderman Graham Warke.
The religious aspect of the ceremony was led by Rev Canon John Merrick from St Columb’s Cathedral. Readings were performed by the Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, Rt Rev Andrew Forster; the Vicar General of the Derry Diocese, Fr Michael Canny; and Rev John Montgomery from Carlisle Road Methodist Church.
After the ceremony, the Dean of Derry, Very Rev Raymond Stewart, led a Service of Remembrance in St Columb’s Cathedral, where he was assisted by Canon Merrick.
In a deeply personal sermon, Bishop Forster talked to the congregation about his grandfather, Roger Charles Botley – who fought at the Battle of Ypres, and was later wounded and discharged from service – and his late uncle and godfather, RUC Constable Billy Forster, who was awarded the Queen’s Gallantry Medal for saving a man’s life as a car bomb exploded in Belfast almost 50 years ago. “I wonder who you remember today,” Bishop Andrew said, “with solemn gratitude and thankfulness, with a deep mixture of pride and grateful hearts?
“On this day, we, as a nation, fulfil our sacred duty of remembrance for those who held back the tide of war, for those who held back the tide of terrorist violence, so that you and I could sleep safely in our beds and live our lives peacefully. Today we acknowledge their service and sacrifice, and we fulfil our solemn duty by saying ‘We will remember them.’”
Sunday’s service was held in compliance with public health restrictions, which meant the traditional Poppy Appeal collection was suspended. However, as this year marks the centenary of the foundation of the Royal British Legion, members of the congregation were invited to contribute to the Poppy Appeal as they left the church.