armistice pals

Peace Foundation at the Christmas Truce Carol Service

December 14, 2014 | Nick Taylor

The Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace’s Chief Executive, Nick Taylor, was a guest speaker at Warrington’s Christmas Truce Carol Service on Sunday 14th December.  The commemoration event at the Halliwell Jones Stadium, home of the Warrington Wolves, was a poignant 100 minute ceremony, each minute representing a year since the famous 1914 Christmas truce.

Click here to download and read the event poster

A cadet guard of honour welcomed over a 1000 members of the public to service, combining carol singing with First World War remembrance.  The Lancashire Artillery Band, Warrington Male Voice Choir, opera singer Stephanie Guidera and King’s Community Choir provided the music as well as numerous dances, readers and a re-creation of the famous 1914 ‘truce’ football match on the Warrington Wolves pitch.
 
Wreaths were laid by the Mayor of Warrington (Cllr Ted Finnegan), the Mayor of Hilden (Frau Birgit Alkenings) and Lord Hoyle, President of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Rugby League.  The wreaths sat on the pitch area for the fallen of Warrington, the dead of the Warrington rugby league club, and those of twin German town Hilden.
 
Held at the Halliwell Jones Stadium (entrance Gate A) – and following a service last year which attracted 1,200 – the free event was open to all – a collection will be taken for Help for Heroes, the Royal British legion and the Foundation for Peace.
 
The Lancashire Artillery Band led the carol singing, with the Warrington Male Voice Choir. Dance and dramatic representation of the 1914 Christmas truce football match featured.  Civic and community leaders were present including local MP David Mowat, his opposition rival Nick Bent, Council, two football and Rugby league CEOs, Warrington Town coach Shaun Reid, the Council Leader and deputy along with the Burgermeister of Hilden.
 
Organiser, Rev. Stephen Kingsnorth of Warrington Borough Ministry said: “Along with those from the Wolves’ Charitable Foundation, faith leaders have been planning this event for some months with much cooperation from a range of partners in the community including Warrington Borough Council and the Cheshire Army Cadet Force. 
 
“Folk came wrapped up warm for what we trust was a moving occasion as we all paid our respects and sang Silent Night and other popular carols”
 
“ This event provided an opportunity for remembrance for the borough and its community, the military, the rugby and football fan, the carol singer and the faith communities.”
 
For more information you can contact the Rev Stephen Kingsnorth on 01925 246900 or e-mail slkingsnorth@googlemail.com
 
Nick Taylor, Chief Executive of the Foundation for Peace spoke at the event and his words are reproduced below:
 
Today we come together to remember and commemorate an anniversary of a truce that brought about a shared hope for a more peaceful world.

Time and again that hope has been dashed and nearly 22 years ago in Warrington violent conflict visited this town.

Just a short distance from this stadium two terrorist bombs led to the deaths of Johnathan Ball, Tim Parry and Bronwen Vickers. It injured 54 others and affected many thousands of people in this town and beyond.

War and conflict is never far away – and in 2014 it is sad to reflect that terrorism, war and violent conflict is at its worse since 1945, reversing a trend of year-on-year peace.

But there is hope. And it starts here in Warrington because after the IRA did what it did to this town – yes we were angry, we were shocked, we were devastated BUT we reacted in a spirit of reconciliation.

Our council, faith leaders, organisations like the choir and the sporting clubs like the Wolves came together as a community for reconciliation and two decades on we are still showing the way.

No other town or city in this country or indeed Europe has an international Peace Centre.

From its location on Peace Drive; every day we reach out across the world to support victims of terrorism – if communities are divided we work to bring them together and we turn vulnerable people away from using violence. That is something we in Warrington can all be proud of.

So the message of truce is not something we are just talking and singing about today it is something we as a town and community do every day because Warrington doesn’t wage war it wages peace.