The fourteenth National Service Day took place at the National Memorial Arboretum, Alrewas, on Sunday 26th June 2016. With a large audience and many invited guests and participants, this event was splendidly organised by Gerald Rose, who is the Chairman of the National Service Veterans Foundation. W Bro Gerald is also a Past Master of Sutton Pilgrims Lodge, where he has been a member for over 50 years.
The service was led by Commander David Childs RN, CBE, Founder of the National Service Foundation. Parades of representatives of the forces with standards, including the Masonic standards of the Provinces of Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Derbyshire & Staffordshire were very impressive – the weather was also ideal for the service.
W Bro Ron Eamonson, a trustee of the National Service Foundation, laid a wreath on behalf of all Freemasons who had made the supreme sacrifice, and also read a most moving poem entitled Heroes, in tribute to the Merchant Navy. Following the Last Post, Observation of Silence, Reveille, and laying of the wreaths, Major General Patrick Cordingly, DSO, DSC, FRGS, gave a personal address. This included reference to the rebuilding work for the new visitor centre which is in the background of some of the photographs.
The Province of Warwickshire was represented by W Bro Christopher Rogers, Asst Provincial Grand Master, and W Bro John Hayward, Provincial Charity Steward with their wives, together with W Bro Andrew Warwick, Prov Grand Standard Bearer, and W Bro Michael Willetts, Prov Asst Grand Standard Bearer. Representatives of Worcestershire, Staffordshire & Derbyshire were also present for the service. A donation by the Warwickshire Masonic Charitable Association had been made earlier in the year in support of the National Service Veterans Foundation, as has been the case for several years.
The Masonic Memorial which has been at the centre for many years, is being totally redesigned and will be unveiled during the Tercentenary celebrations of the United Grand Lodge of England.
A splendid, impressive day was enjoyed by all present.
John Hayward, Provincial Charity Steward