This being my final diary in what has been an eventful period of office I have resisted the temptation of listing all the wonderful events I have attended but instead decided to reflect upon a few which impact upon our being able to enjoy the freedoms we cherish today.
This has been a period of remembrance, reflection and commemoration starting last August with the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War, followed in January with the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau and May 8 will be 70 years since Victory in Europe day.
It has been an honour and privilege to serve as Mayor of this great district and I thank you all and wish you a successful, peaceful and happy future.Coun Jim Clark
I am delighted that on May 10 over 900 junior soldiers from the Army Foundation College will march through the town which is their right as the college has the Freedom of the Borough of Harrogate and following the march there will be a service of thanksgiving in St Peter’s Church similar to a service held in the church 70 years earlier. I am very proud that our district is home to the college.
I have attended a number of events at the college during the year including two passing out parades and have always been impressed by the conduct of the young soldiers who are a credit to their instructors, families and to us all.
Young boys and girls arrive at the college straight from school and after training they leave as brave young men and women ready to start the next stage of their military training on course to defend our country and we hope and pray that they will not have to see action but the fact that they are ready and prepared will help to ensure that no further conflicts arise.
It is sobering to think that 110 years ago young men some of the the same age or younger than today’s junior soldiers were putting their lives on the line for our freedom and that so many paid the ultimate price and we must remember them as today’s young soldiers parade through our town.
We must also have in our thoughts those young men and women who fought and died in the war that ended 70 years ago.
Indeed it will be a time to remember and give thanks for all members of the armed forces who have fought for our freedoms over the years in all conflicts.
The 70th anniversary of the liberation fo the concentration camps reminds us of the consequences if evil wins. “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”.
We must never forget the Holocaust and we must ensure it never happens again. I will always remember meeting a survivor of Auschwitz and how he spoke so movingly and in a matter of fact manner of the dreadful events that happened to him and his family with no bitterness whatsoever.
I’m afraid that the 70th anniversaries held at this time will be the last opportunity of survivors of these events to be present in numbers and I invite any reading this to come to watch the parade and join in the church service.
I am intending that the church service will follow as closely as possible the service that took place in 1945 as the report in the Harrogate Advertiser at the time said it was “a memorable thanksgiving service that will long be remembered by those who attended”.
I also hope as many people of all religious denominations will be present as everyone today enjoys the freedoms that were won at such a great cost of life and human suffering.
The church service will be conducted by the Rev Tony Shepherd, the vicar of St Peter’s and as he is retiring later in the year this will one of the last major services he conducts for our civic community.
I would like to place on record our thanks for the enormous contribution he has made to our town and district in many ways and wish him a happy retire ment.
The victory was a victory for freedom and democracy and it is fitting that the greatest recurring example of our democracy, a General Election takes place the day before the actual anniversary of VE Day and that should encourage all those of us eligible to vote to do so as these democratic rights were won at great cost and sacrifice.
I hope as many of you as possible will be able to be present on the Sunday to encourage our junior soldiers and remember and pay tribute to their predecessors whose service and sacrifice gave us the freedoms we all enjoy today.
It has been an honour and privilege to serve as Mayor of this great district and I thank you all and wish you a successful, peaceful and happy future.
l The new mayor of the borough of Harrogate, Coun Nigel Simms, will be sworn in at a mayor making ceremony at Harrogate’s Royal Hall on Monday, May 18.
Look out for coverage in the Harrogate Advertiser Series.