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Remembrance Day 2020: The Kent ceremonies going ahead and how they have been changed due to coronavirus

Measures to protect against Covid-19 are to be extended to Remembrance Day services with organisers urged to limit numbers, ban communal singing and document anyone attending.

2020 marks 101 years since ceremonies to commemorate the war dead were first held and are usually observed across Kent with church services and wreath-laying at memorial gardens.

The 36th Engineer Regiment Maidstone parade down High Street Picture: Bob Kitchin
The 36th Engineer Regiment Maidstone parade down High Street Picture: Bob Kitchin

Some areas, including Maidstone, Medway and Canterbury, also mark the sombre occasion with parades which attract crowds in their hundreds.

But this year organisers are being urged to scale down ceremonies in order to make them as safe as possible.

Even the Remembrance Sunday event at the National Cenotaph is being adjusted to help minimise the spread of the coronavirus.

Government guidance suggests local events should be adapted to reflect the same principles.

The Remembrance Day Parade and Service, Maidstone. Photo: Rob Canis
The Remembrance Day Parade and Service, Maidstone. Photo: Rob Canis

It asks that events should;

  • Focus on wreath laying.
  • Have a reduced march past or parade only if social distancing can be maintained.
  • Explore opportunities for wreath layers to represent wider groups.
  • Not involve communal singing.
  • Be kept as short as possible.
  • Numbers kept to a minimum.
  • Minimise wider public viewing.
  • Encourage the public to observe the rule of six when spectating.
  • Observe social distancing at all times.
A Remembrance Sunday service at Windmill Gardens in Gravesend. Picture: Gravesend Council
A Remembrance Sunday service at Windmill Gardens in Gravesend. Picture: Gravesend Council

The guidance does state that, for the avoidance of doubt, those legally permitted to attend events to commemorate Remembrance Sunday as participants include people attending as part of their work (local councillors, faith leaders, MPs, journalists); members of the armed forces and/or their representatives or carers.

Members of the public are legally entitled to stop and watch the event as spectators, the preparation guidance notes, but must observe the rule of six and social distancing rules.

Event organisers are also asked to 'take reasonable steps to record the contact details of those attending (including those present in a working capacity, and members of the public who stop to spectate)'.

Remembrance Sunday service at Sheerness cenotaph. File photo
Remembrance Sunday service at Sheerness cenotaph. File photo

Here is what's happening in your area:


While Ashford's Memorial Gardens will be closed to the public for this year’s Remembrance Sunday service, residents are encouraged to tune into a live stream on the Ashford Borough Council Facebook page, where they will be able to view proceedings, including the two minutes of silence.

Following the event, residents will be able to view photos taken at the event via the ABC website and social channels where content will be shared using the hashtag #RememberAtHome.”


Canterbury's Remembrance Sunday parade has been cancelled for the first time since its inception in 1919.

The district's Poppy Appeal organiser Andrew Heatlie said the annual event - which sees veterans proudly march through the city alongside other service organisations and gather around the Buttermarket war memorial to lay wreaths - will not be going ahead.

Instead, about 150 attendees have been invited to attend a small, private service that will take place within the Cathedral precincts on Remembrance Sunday.


A live stream is set to be provided for the annual Remembrance Day commemorations this year.

Details have not been finalised yet but Dartford council leader Jeremy Kite says officers are working on ways to broadcast a service online.

Cllr Kite said: "Remembrance Day is a hugely important day for local families and for all sorts of personal reasons it’s an important day for me too.

"We have been working hard to create a way of ensuring the town’s remembrance can continue but it may be somewhat different from previous years.

"The chief thing is to ensure that any act of remembrance is compatible with keeping our community safe so we may be asking local people to co-operate with a new kind of event this year and we are planning to livestream proceedings so that everyone can unite with the act of remembrance.

"We shall provide more information in due course."

A member of Wilmington Parish Council will lay a wreath on behalf of residents at the Rosemary Centre at 11am.

The council will not be inviting guests to the service at noon as it has done in previous years to follow social distancing guidance.

Local organisations and individuals are invited to attend the memorial site to lay their own wreaths between 11.15am and 4pm, when the centre will close.

The arrangements for the Act of Remembrance Services at St Michael and All Angels Church, Wilmington Community Church and St Barnabas Church are not known but information will be published as soon as possible.

Remembrance Day ceremonies will be held without crowds this year
Remembrance Day ceremonies will be held without crowds this year


Dover Town Council will host a virtual service this Remembrance Sunday to avoid crowds gathering at its memorial.

Commemorations will take place online via dovertowncouncil.gov.uk in the form of a special film.

Starting at 11am, it will include a service, wreath laying and prerecorded footage of memorials.

A spokesman said: “Public safety is paramount at this time and we urge those wishing to mark Remembrance to join the online commemorations to avoid endangering themselves and others by physically visiting the war memorial.

"This is the best way to show respect for the sacrifices made by the fallen and their comrades in the Armed Forces.

"Stay safe and remember from home this year.”


The Mayor of Gravesham will be laying a wreath at a private ceremony.

Poppy umbrellas are on display in Gravesend Borough Market and the poppy carpet will be on show in the Community Square on November 8.

A remembrance film, including the Mayor’s wreath laying, will be released at 11am on the day.

The usual Remembrance services at Windmill Hill Memorial Gardens and the Hill, Northfleet, will not be going ahead.

Members of the public can lay a wreath at either memorial site from 11:15am on November 8.

A Gravesham council spokesman said they had not been notified of any other services or parades taking place in the borough.

The service in Dover last year. Picture: Dover Town Council
The service in Dover last year. Picture: Dover Town Council


All parades across the Towns have been cancelled.

The area has a huge military connection throughout its history through the Royal Navy base at Chatham and the Royal Engineers at Brompton Barracks in Gillingham.

Medway residents come out in their thousands to pay respects to the fallen every year.

One of the largest parades is in Chatham, with organisers already confirming alternative plans for commemorations this year.

The event will move online with creative ways to mark the moment in 2020.

Nucleas Arts has put together a remembrance video with those who normally take part reading a line each of an appropriate piece of poetry.

Private wreath laying ceremonies are being organised and a live stream of proceedings is taking place on the Love Chatham Facebook page from 10.30am on Sunday. Several other services will also be live streaming on Facebook.


A small Remembrance service will be held at the Cenotaph in Brenchley Gardens, Maidstone, on the morning of Sunday, November 8.

The service will be limited to just six people, including the Mayor of Maidstone, representatives of 36 Engineer Regiment which is based in the town, a bugler, and the Minister leading the service.

The event will be live-streamed on Maidstone Borough Council’s website to encourage people to respect and remember at home this year to protect their health and well-being while coronavirus is still present.

Geraldine Brown, chairman of Maidstone’s Kent Association of Local Councils, said: "We are asking people to stay at home and instead to come out onto their doorsteps for the two minute silence at 11am to show their respect.

"Please do not go to a war memorial at this time, we want everyone to stay safe. It will be a different and respectful way to commemorate our war heroes this year."

People are welcome to lay a wreath at the war memorial in the Broadway at any time prior to Remembrance Sunday.


Only three people will lay wreaths at the War Memorial in Sandwich this Remembrance Sunday and crowds are not encouraged.

They will be the Mayor of Sandwich, Cllr Paul Graeme, the Rev Canon Mark Roberts and Simon Leith of the Royal British Legion.

A spokesman said: "Due to the current social distancing restrictions, unfortunately this year people are not encouraged to congregate together at the War Memorial at 11am.

"Instead, the local community is encouraged to “Remember at Home” by observing two minutes silence at 11am, either outside your home or outside with your neighbours.

"Local people, organisations, and groups are then invited to lay a wreath at the War Memorial throughout the day at a time convenient to them."


The annual service of remembrance at the war memorial at The Vine will not take place this year.

Instead Sevenoaks Town Council is asking people to remember at home with a moment of silence on November 8 at 11am, either as a household or in a socially-distanced fashion with neighbours.

Many of the ceremonies will be streamed online
Many of the ceremonies will be streamed online


A Service of Remembrance will be streamed for all residents to watch via St Mildred's website both on Remembrance Sunday and on Armistice Day itself.

Each service will be by invitation only, with those attending the Remembrance Day service will be representatives of the Town Council, Royal British Legion and the local Churches.

This will replace the parade and service at the Tenterden War Memorial.

All residents, organisations and veterans are invited to attend the War Memorial to lay a wreath any time between Sunday, 8th November and Wednesday, 11th November 2020.

Residents are also welcome to lay a cross in the Garden of Remembrance next to the War Memorial.


Parades across Thanet have been cancelled but wreaths will be laid at memorials.

In Broadstairs, Mayor Cllr Paul Moore and the Mayoress will be laying a wreath at the town's war memorial, but not giving a speech or service.

A spokesman for the Mayor said: "I am sad to say the service due to take place at the Broadstairs War Memorial this year is cancelled due to Covid-19 restrictions and the safety of our residents and visitors.

"We are not encouraging people to lay wreaths at specific times of the day and suggest if you would like to pay your respects to do so throughout the day and keep to social distance guidelines.

Mayor of Ramsgate Cllr Raushan Ara will be laying a wreath at the town's war memorial but there will be no service or parade.

Margate's parade has also been cancelled. In Birchington there will be a two-minute silence at the memorial with wreath laying.

Tunbridge Wells

There will be no public service at the war memorial in Tunbridge Wells on Remembrance Sunday.

Instead a short service with just a small number of invited guests will be held, and members of the public are being asked not to attend due to the pandemic restrictions in place.

Just two wreaths will be laid at the ceremony this year, one by the Mayor and the other by President of the Tunbridge Wells Branch of the Royal British Legion.

Like the council in Maidstone, Tunbridge Wells Borough Council will also be live-streaming the commemoration online and is asking people to watch at home if they wish to participate in the town's remembrance this year.

Mayor of Tunbridge Wells, Joy Podbury, said: "Paying our respects to those who lost their lives in the two world wars and later conflicts is very important, and so it is with deep sadness that I am making this extraordinary request and asking people not to attend the service at the war memorial this year."

The council is suggesting that people show their support by making donations to the Poppy Appeal online, and follow the suggestion of the Royal British Legion and display a poppy picture in their window.

For the latest coronavirus news and advice, click here.

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