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Fitting tribute to Goudhurst's First World War heroes

By Alan Smith
The Memorial as it looks today
The Memorial as it looks today

Goudhurst’s newly renovated war memorial will be unveiled with all due pomp and ceremony on Saturday, August 2, just two days before the centenary of the start of the First World War.

The memorial records the names of 60 villagers who lost their lives in that conflict - as well as six from the Second World War - and among the special guests on the day will be members of 26 families who are descendants of the fallen. Some still live in the village, others will be travelling from far away for the occasion.

The memorial itself will be unveiled by Colonel (Retd) Peter Bishop, a Deputy Lieutenant of Kent, and other special guests will include Greg Clark, the Minister for Universities and Science and the MP for Tunbridge Wells; and George Jessel, also a Deputy Lieutenant of Kent, whose great grandfather, Sir Charles Jessel, gave the land for the memorial to be first erected back in 1924.

Also expected are Chief Inspector Dave Pate, the District Police Commander for Tunbridge Wells, and Dr Robin Benians and Tim Benians, who are respectively the son and grandson of the original architect of the memorial, Hubert Benians.

A small committee has spent the past year organising the renovation project. Apart from a £200 grant from Tunbridge Wells council, all the £11,000 cost has been raised by public subscription.

Peter Rollington, one of the organisers, said: “Some people made very generous donations, but one boy gave us all his pocket money.”

He said: “The memorial was very dirty and undistinguished before, but now it looks wonderful. We are very, very pleased.”

As well as cleaning the stonework, the plaques recording the names were replaced.

Local historian Roger Joye who has been researching the histories of the fallen soldiers discovered that the original plaques contained a number of spelling mistakes. These have now been corrected.

The memorial has also been equipped with LED lighting which in future will light up on the anniversary of each serviceman’s death.

The ceremony will begin at 10.45am with a parade of standards by the Royal British Legion.

The unveiling at 11am will be followed by a prayer and blessing from the Rev Hugh Nelson, vicar of St Mary’s, Goudhurst.

The day will also see an exhibition of Great War memorabilia in the Parish Hall, and a performance of “Oh What A Lovely War” by the Goudhurst Amateur Dramatic Society.

The ceremony is open to the public.

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