Seaham folk will gather at Tommy statue for Remembrance Day after parade's cancellation

The Line of Reconciliation set up on Seaham's Terrace Green.
The Line of Reconciliation set up on Seaham's Terrace Green.
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The organisers of a town's Remembrance Sunday event has issued an apology over a decision to call off its parade and move the ceremony inside after bad weather hit.

Gary Dodds, chairman and secretary of Seaham's branch of the Royal British Legion, has said sorry after residents expressed anger the march was halted and the wreath laying was then held inside St John's Church after it began to rain.

Respects are paid at Seaham's cenotaph as part of Sunday's Remembrance Sunday event.

Respects are paid at Seaham's cenotaph as part of Sunday's Remembrance Sunday event.

Residents have hit out at the decision, calling it a "blunder" and "utterly disgusting."

Barry Ashcroft added his views as people spoke out and said: "Apparently moved to St John's Church because of the rain.

"Unbelievable, never have I known such farce to happen.
"There isn't an ex forces member I know would not stand for a measly 20 minutes in the rain."

But Mr Dodds said the decision was taken because may of those who were taking part were young and old, with an added risk because the public address system could not be left outside in the wet.

A wreath is laid at St John's Church in Seaham after the town's Remembrance Sunday ceremony was moved from the seafront.

A wreath is laid at St John's Church in Seaham after the town's Remembrance Sunday ceremony was moved from the seafront.

He added the fall back plan to head to St John's has been in place for several years.

He said: "I apologise to the community of Seaham if there was an issue and some anxiety.

"As the weather conditions at the time worsened, I realised people would be outside when it was wet and there were younger and older generations and the PA is powered by electricity and it would have been a danger.

"People have also made comments in previous years about not being able to hear.

"As a branch, Seaham is grateful to people for their support for our Poppy Appeal."

He added last year's campaign in the town raised £21,000 and that the wreaths had later been laid at the cenotaph following the church service.

The annual Armistice Day service will be held today at 11am at St John's Church.

In the aftermath of the concerns about Sunday's event, residents have said they plan to gather at 10.40am tomorrow ahead of 11am on the Terrace Green, next to its cenotaph and next to the Tommy statue, which was created by South Hetton artist Ray Londsdale and bought following a community campaign.

A post issued via the Mission 1101 Facebook page, which was run as part of the cash appeal to buy the piece, states: "Due to the parade in Seaham not going to plan, the complaints and disappointment from local people supporting HM Armed Forces.

"The veterans of Seaham would like to invite people to pay their respects at 11am on Wednesday morning, on the day the guns fell silent.

"Any friends or veterans are asked to attend for a minutes silence.

"The support in Seaham from local people has been phenomenal, demonstrated by Tommy and the individual 1,000+ crosses of remembrance laid by children and adults alike.

"The seafront location and the way in which the local Seaham Town Council have worked tirelessly, has made this location one of the best in the UK.
"It would be be absolutely fabulous if we had a good crowd to attend.
"Please note this not a formal parade but a mark of respect and thanks to the community.

Please come and support us. Everyone welcome."

Seaham Town Council, which was criticised following Sunday's event, issued a statement setting out that it does not organise the event.

It added: "The Royal British Legion does an excellent job every year organising the Remembrance Sunday Parade and has always stated that in bad weather the service would take place in St John’s Church.
"As with any such occurrence this is a judgement call at the appropriate point in time on the day and as the RBL decided that the weather was too bad they should be supported in that decision.

"The service was still the poignant and appropriate acknowledgement to the past and ongoing commitment and sacrifice made by the members of our armed forces."