Reading Minster at heart of War commemorations

Pillars at Reading Minster Church help tell the story of the Great War Phil Creighton

Reading’s Minster Church is at the heart of a series of events today to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War.

The church, in Reading’s town centre, is open as a focal point for people to stop, reflect and thank the millions of people who sacrificed their lives during the War.

Open from 10am this morning, the church in St Mary’s Butts, has been inviting people to come in for private prayer and lighting of candles. Throughout the day, priests will be saying prayers and reading suitable poems to help people reflect.

The Rt Revd Andrew Proud, the bishop of Reading, has been leading two special Stations of Remembrance services, assisted by Joan van Emden.

The services were based on the Stations of the Cross, with the words of veterans of the First World War and were held at noon and 1.5pm.

The six pillars in the church, which are draped with pictorial banners about different aspects of the war, were used for the Stations.

This evening, the church will be hosting a special Evensong Service of Remembrance, again led by Bishop Andrew.

The First Reading will be read by The High Sherriff of Berkshire, Mr CTK Khoo, and The Second Reading by Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant for the Royal County of Berkshire, The Hon Mrs Bayliss JP.

Group Captain David Drew, Chairman of The Royal British Legion in Berkshire, will read The Casualty by Winifred Mary Letts.

The Reading Minster Choir, directed by Peter West, will be supported by The Revd Graham Lunn (Cantor) and The Oxford String Quintet.

The Organist will be Mr Ben Giddens.

Everyone is welcome to these services.

There will be a retiring collection to these services, to which everyone is welcome. All money donated will go towards Combat Stress, a charity established in 1919 to help, through rehabilitation, ex-Servicemen who had suffered from shell-shock during The Great War. Its work continues and today it assists 5,400 Veterans of the Armed Forces who are suffering from mental ill-health.

The specially commissioned banners about the Great War, which have been on display in Reading Minster since July, will be removed during the week.

They will then be available, though the Royal British Legion’s Berkshire Branch, to be borrowed by schools from the autumn term to support any lessons they plan to run about the war.

After the service, local leaders including the Mayor of Reading Clrr Tony Jones, will gather in the Town Hall Square and in Forbury Gardens to mark the anniversary by taking part in the Lights Out event.