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The Festival of Remembrance is returning

Updated: Nov 8, 2023

The Festival of Remembrance is returning for the 12th year at Durham Cathedral on Saturday 11 November, for an evening of commemoration, music and spoken word. The festival culminates with the poignant Muster and Act of Remembrance, a spectacular moment when thousands of poppies fall silently inside the cathedral from the central tower.

This year's festival, starting at 7.30pm, will commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of the Korean War, a conflict that is very close to the people of County Durham, and the County’s links to the Durham Light Infantry (DLI). Nearly 60,000 British combat troops saw active service in the war; 1,100 never returned, including 24 from the DLI.

Lieutenant Colonel Barney Barnbrook, Regional Director, ABF The Soldiers’ Charity says,

ABF The Soldiers’ Charity is hugely privileged to host the Festival of Remembrance at Durham Cathedral once again in 2023. It is such an important event for us, as we mark the sacrifices of the countless Service Men and Women over the years, many of whom have paid the ultimate price in the service of their Country.
This year, our key theme will be a commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the end of the Korean War. Also known as the ‘forgotten war’, it holds a solemn place in the hearts of the people of Durham, and the wider North East, through the involvement of the Durham Light Infantry and the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers. It is probably the seminal Act of Remembrance outside London and will offer an important opportunity for us to collectively remember the Fallen, and the debt of honour that we owe them.”

The programme for this year’s concert features a range of singers, performers and guest speakers, including music from Band of Royal Regiment of Fusiliers and the Pipes and Drums of 102 Battalion REME. The journalist and presenter, Pam Royle, will return this year as the Narrator and will also deliver the poem 'Alive with Poppies'.

This will be the first year without veteran Arthur ‘Skippy’ Teasdale, a Chelsea Pensioner at the Royal Chelsea Hospital, attending in person. Skippy served with the Durham Light Infantry in Korea, and he is unable to attend due to his health however, there is a special section in this year's printed programme about his achievements and serving life.

Also featuring in this year's Remembrance Festival is a moving poem by Sergeant Jimmy Murray BEM, a DLI Korea veteran, titled 'Dog Soldier' which not only covers Korea, but the wider life of a soldier in that era. Jimmy is unable to attend due to his health, however the poem will be read on his behalf by Cadet Sergeants Matthew Paine (RAFAC) and Matthew Shelvin (RAFAC).

The festival concludes with the Roll of Honour, which features names of the Fallen from the Durham Light Infantry and the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers during the Korean War, which lasted from 25th June 1950 to 27th July 1953 and is also known as the “The Forgotten War”. The names will be written on poppies, which will fall from the Cathedral's Central Tower during the Act of Remembrance.

The Reverend Canon Dr Philip Plyming, Dean of Durham says,

"Remembering all those affected by war and conflict is part of the regular heartbeat of prayer and worship at Durham Cathedral, and the current news from Ukraine and the Middle East is a further reminder to do just that. The Festival of Remembrance is a precious opportunity to honour the sacrifice of so many who have served our country, and also to support the important work of the Army Benevolent Fund. The 70th anniversary of the end of the Korean War, invites us to remember the ongoing instability in that part of the world, and reminds us in this generation that the cause of peace and justice is one that, under God, needs ongoing energy and prayer. I am looking forward to welcoming those who are taking part in and attending this special evening."

The day after the Festival all are also welcome to join the cathedrals Remembrance Sunday Service at 10.15am, to mark the occasion through spoken word and music sung by the cathedral choir.

All proceeds from Festival of Remembrance ticket sales go towards the ABF The Soldiers Charity, the national charity of the British Army that supports soldiers, veterans and their families. Tickets are £19 and are available here


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