Thirty three Pewsey men died in World War 1. Their sacrifice has been honoured and remembered today, November 9, by an event organised by Pewsey Parish Council. High on the hill just beyond the Pewsey White Horse, thirty three, children from Pewsey Primary School planted thirty three beech trees accompanied by thirty three hand crafted poppies.
Students from Pewsey Vale School made and designed the soldiers’ name plaques which they placed beside each tree.
A tree was also planted by Jack Rudman, father of Shelley Rudman, Olympic skeleton bobsleigh athlete. Jack lost a family member in World Wars One and Two, in the Korean War and in Northern Ireland.
The trees are planted in the shape of a Christian cross. At the centre stands a sarsen stone with a commemorative plaque which was unveiled by the Rt Hon Claire Perry MP. She said, “This is an incredibly respectful way to pay tribute to those who died. A sarsen stone never wears away. They will be remembered.”
After the unveiling she sprinkled poppy seeds around the stone.
Parent, Kate Wyatt, said her son Maddox (9) was very excited to be involved in the event. “He thinks it will be great, because when he’s old and a granddad he’ll be able to show his children the tree he planted there. And he’ll be able to tell them why it was planted.”
Headteacher of Pewsey Primary School, Nicola Gilbert, explained how the Pewsey children involved had all visited Pewsey Heritage Centre to research and to learn about the men who died. They were surprised how young most of them were, many only sixteen or seventeen years old. There were also three brothers who died.
The whole event was the idea of Councillor Phil Stevens. He told marlborough.news, “ I had the idea after I’d looked down on a wood from a helicopter. A lot of military aircraft fly over this area and I thought if we could plant trees, in years to come they will see trees in the shape of a cross.”
To further mark the occasion a time capsule was buried. It contained two items selected by each class at Pewsey Primary such as: a school pen, a photograph, money, a school textbook. Before it was buried, East Wiltshire Community Police Officer, Paul Whiteside, added some handcuffs and a truncheon and Claire Perry added a jar of her own honey, an Order Paper from the House of Commons for November 5, but not, she quipped, the Brexit Plan!
Police Officer Paul Whiteside told marlborough.news, “This is a brilliant event, very poignant. It’s nice to see one hundred years on from World War One you still get a really good turn out from across the generations to remember those who gave their lives defending the freedoms we all take for granted now.”
The Pewsey Primary School choir sang “It’s a long way to Tipperary” and “Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag.”
The afternoon ended with a prayer and summing up from Rev. Jennifer Totney who said, “The trees are signs of new life, hope and peace.”