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Malpas 100 Years On to honour the 100th anniversary of The Armistice

PUBLISHED: 00:00 07 September 2018

Committee; Richard Hoffman (Chairman), the Revd Canon Ian Davenport, Chris Whitehurst, Angela Witter, Jackie Clegg and Amelia Clegg

Committee; Richard Hoffman (Chairman), the Revd Canon Ian Davenport, Chris Whitehurst, Angela Witter, Jackie Clegg and Amelia Clegg

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Malpas residents are preparing special commemorations to remember the fallen soldiers listed on the Malpas War Memorial

The Cross, MalpasThe Cross, Malpas

It was a war that changed everything. Described as ‘the War to End All Wars’, it was a conflict that mobilised more than 70 million military personnel and took the lives of civilian men, women and children. It was a war felt in communities across the world. And the pretty village of Malpas was no exception.

Large parts of the Malpas community were conscripted to war as well as the women contributing by working on the land and a voluntary Red Cross hospital was set up at The Bollin. Like so many communities across Britain, it was a time when everything changed and nothing could be the same again.

Now, residents from the charming rural village have come together to mark the sacrifices, efforts and work of local residents, soldiers and even animals, during the First World War.

Malpas 100 Years On honours the soldiers listed on the Malpas War Memorial, to recognise the hardship and sacrifices of local residents during the 1914 - 1918 period and to provide a comprehensive cross-section of events that will help more people understand Malpas’s history and enhance community spirit.

British Victory Medals and letter for Frank Leek, Great Uncle of John HuxleyBritish Victory Medals and letter for Frank Leek, Great Uncle of John Huxley

The commemorations are the brainchild of Chris Whitehurst, secretary of Malpas 100 Years On. He wanted to rejuvenate and inspire an understanding of the impact of the Great War. He also wanted to be able to retell the stories of the soldiers who gave their lives and the people and families who kept the home fires burning.

‘We need today’s residents to understand the incredible contribution that the people of Malpas made during the war effort,’ said Chris. ‘It is so important that it is not forgotten. We need to remember the women who worked at the local military hospital, those who worked the land and, of course, those soldiers who gave their lives.

‘We also need to share those stories with new people living in Malpas. It is so integral to the village’s history and for me is just so very important. It cannot be forgotten. It makes me happy to be able to bring these people’s stories to life. I’m so pleased everyone has been so encouraging and willing to get involved.

‘I really do believe it will be thought-provoking and something very special.’

There is a spectacular diary of events planned for the anniversary from November 9th - 11th. Local schools are researching heroes listed in a Malpas Roll of Honour and a World War One trench network will be prepared and used to demonstrate the burdens placed upon soldiers. A military hospital will be set up, shop windows decorated and business owners will don costumes of the era. Following a parade of period vehicles, horses, carts and carriages to the recreation ground, there will be re-enactments to portray key war events and their impact on village life. There have already been events held encouraging residents to share family photographs, stories and memorabilia for an exhibition.

Much of the commemorations will centre around St Oswald’s Church with a production of The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace, featuring Nantwich Choral Society. There will also be a Remembrance Parade that will march from the High Street to a service at 11am on November 11th. The weekend will culminate as Malpas assemble to light a beacon and the church choir will sing evening service. A cannon gun shot will be fired and a bugler will sound the last post as the beacon is lit.

St Oswald’s will be a spectacular backdrop for the commemorations. It is something Canon Ian Davenport is honoured to be a part of. ‘Malpas is a truly wonderful village to be in and I think it is so important these commemorations are happening. I am very humbled to be a part of them,’ said Canon Davenport, who is also an official chaplain to The Queen.

‘I have been at St Oswald’s for nearly eight years and in that time I have seen a flourishing and friendly community and the church is a big part of life here. It is a real honour that this will be a focus of the commemorations. The Armed Man performance is something I’m looking forward to and I think there will be some very special, poignant moments throughout the three days.’

Part of the commemorations at St Oswald’s includes members of Malpas Flower Club. They will be creating displays for the church, particularly for the Festival of Poppies which will see thousands of ruby red flowers fill the stunning space. They have been knitted by members of the popular club as well as people in the Malpas community and further afield following an appeal put out for the memorial showcase.

Janet Blake, chair of Malpas Flower Club and a member of the Malpas 100 Years On committee, said: ‘We were blown away by the number of poppies that have been sent to us. People have given them to us in the village, we’ve had others arrive in the post and we’ve also been really busy as a club. We appreciate the time and commitment our creative knitters have shown. It is down to them that there will be over a thousand poppies in all of the designs to commemorate the armed forces and volunteers as well as helping to feature the role of animals during the First World War.’

The main aisle of the church will be blooming with creations representing the fields of France, barbed wire in some displays will serve as a reminder of the grim realities of war and there will be poppies spilling from different areas of the church to represent those who lost their lives.

Members of Malpas Flower Club are also working hard to create floral displays for the entrance of St Oswalds.

‘I’m really hoping it will look beautiful and will create an impact when people go in,’ said Janet. ‘We’re proud to be involved in such a special event. It is so important to commemorate those people who fought so bravely. We want to remember and honour them.’

Richard Hoffman, chairman of the Malpas 100 Years On committee, said: ‘Our mission for the weekend is to remember and honour those who fought and died at the time of the Great War.

‘The work being completed by local knitters and Malpas Flower Club will perfectly reflect our commemoration objectives and recognise the hardship and sacrifices endured. It’s wonderful to hear how much support Janet has received, enhancing community spirit is a big part of Malpas 100 Years On.

‘The whole event has been given huge support and it makes me very proud to live in such a wonderful village.’

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