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Saturday, 01 November 2014

Forces veterans in war with vicar over service

A ROW has broken out over a remembrance service.

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SILENCE IN CHURCH: The Reverend Malcolm Cowan outside St Cuthbert’s Church in KirkbyJON GRANGER REF: 0497767

At 11am on Remembrance Sunday, the Reverend Malcolm Cowan, vicar of St Cuthbert’s Church in Kirkby, held a two-minute silence inside the church and not at the village’s war memorial.

Residents have branded thedecision disrespectful.

They are also upset that Mr Cowan carried on his Sunday morning service before arriving at the war memorial with parishioners for about 11.40am.

But Mr Cowan says the service was the furthest thing possible from disrespectful.

One of the forces veterans at the war memorial for 11am was Freddie Harris, who spent 12 years in the RAF. He says he felt like a ‘spare part’ stood at the memorial, waiting for the service at 10.55am.

He said: “On Remembrance Sunday we were quite upset, and so were a few other people. As far as I’m concerned, we have the two minutes’ silence at the memorial at 11 o’clock.

“They can get thousands of people all over the country to a cenotaph for 11 o’clock, including Her Majesty the Queen, so I’m sure we can get two dozen from Kirkby to a war memorial. The handful of us that were stood there were getting more and more agitated the further it got past 11 o’clock.”

His wife, Maggie Harris, was also present at the cenotaph.

She said: “I think it’s disrespectful.

“I don’t understand the idea behind it, and I don’t think it’s what the people of Kirkby wanted.

“Everybody was bemused.”

Mr Harris wrote a letter to the parochial council to voice his disapproval.

And in response, Mr Cowan said: “Disrespectful?

“What we did in Kirkby this year? Certainly not.

“On Armistice Day at 11am, I and others from the village joined with many staff of Burlington Slate Quarry for an act of remembrance at the war memorial in the quarry grounds.

“Two minutes’ silence was kept at 11am. On Remembrance Sunday at 11am all in the church joined with those in the nation who were observing the silence at this time.

“After the two minutes’ silence the Eucharist service continued.

“The act of remembrance began in the church at the end of the Eucharist, as it was the custom here, and then we moved to the war memorial, in the churchyard, for the final act of remembrance.

“In many places throughout the county the service of remembrance is held on Sunday afternoon, in my experience: Penrith, Cockermouth, Keswick, Workington, Askam and Carlisle, where I have taken part.

“No less of a remembrance for that.”

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