Standing room only…

in St Thomas à Becket’s for the Service of Remembrance on Sunday 9th November.

We welcomed the Leader of Arun District Council, Gillian Brown, Ray Radmall, Chairman of Pagham Parish Council and members of the youth uniformed organisations – the bright blue of the Beavers contrasting dramatically with the red of the poppies.

Our Vicar, Rev Mark Eminson, in his sermon, read out three letters written by people who were away from their loved ones during the WWI hostilities – one by his grandfather, who served in Gallipoli for a time. They contained details of everyday minutiae – what they had to eat, the state of the crops on the farm, a brief mention of a violent death of one of their comrades, the joyous anticipation of young lovers planning their reunion at Christmas and then, a letter of comfort and encouragement from St Paul to the Thessalonians  ‘. . . . and so we believe that God will take back with Jesus those who have died believing in Him . . . and so we will always be with the Lord – so then, encourage one another with these words.’

The warm autumn sunshine blessed us as we stood around the War Memorial in the churchyard to hear the names read out of the young men of Pagham who fell in WWI and WWII.

The sweetest reminder of the fact that ‘life goes on’, was to be seen in the South transept. Beneath the ancient Celtic Cross there’s a poignant display of a soldier’s tin helmet, surrounded by an array of red poppies – at the other side, a hand-knitted war-horse, which attracted the attention of two lovely little sisters, who knelt and gently stroked its dark brown mane. A ray of sunshine streamed through the stained glass windows, blessing the scene for us, as one of the Sunday School’s freshly made paper poppies was placed, leaning against the Cross.