Memorial in the Making
Barry Gilden begun to wonder what was going to happen to the memorial plaques being stored in the former bus shelter (owned by Stilton Parish Council).
Barry attended a Parish Council meeting to ask Councillors what they intended to do with the plaques. He was advised that, due to lack of funding, they would remain in safe keeping until such time funding was available.
Barry attended another Parish Council meeting to advise that he would be developing a plan for a memorial. A public meeting for villagers was then organised to establish if anyone would be interested in or had any ideas for the memorial plaques. Only three people attended, being Barry, Anthony Edward (known as Tony) and his wife, Sue.
Mr Gilden was invited to join the Parish Council and following due process, was appointed. He continued to press on with plans for a memorial, working with Tony.
Where to place the memorial
The Parish Council decided that the best place for the new memorial would be adjacent to the church.
Having discovered who owned the land, a complex journey begun to acquire acknowledgement from Cambridgeshire County Council that it owned the land. This was followed with establishing how to request the Church Close road name and Give Way sign be moved or removed and cost (£750) and acquiring planning permission for change of use of said land.
Eventually, Barry and Tony prepared a design for the memorial. This was presented to the Parish Council and approved. It was however, tweaked so that the memorial could be shaped to represent a Book of Remembrance – have a look if you’re passing by.
Financing the Memorial
With the land and a design in place plus the two signs repositioned, it just left the matter of financing the project.
Several avenues were explored, including via Fenland Trust and Milton Estates. Following discussions and presentations being made by Barry, Milton Estates generously donated part of the funding required for the project.
David Hartley Architects (based in Stilton) kindly produced a plan for the memorial. Plus, Fenland Stone (Yaxley) designed a memorial plaque plan and quoted for making the plaques.
One last thing remained to be put in place, who would build the memorial? Tony, owner of Darke Steel (Stilton), was approached and generously offered to build it without hesitation!
When all the pieces of the memorial framework were placed together, Tony and Barry went to view them. Barry said they were overwhelmed with what they saw and speechless but were very pleased to see it completed. It had been an emotional experience to know that, after several meetings with Tony, the design of the finished memorial is as seen today and is what Tony Edwards and himself had worked together tirelessly to achieve.
Paul Farrance of Darke Engineering was approached and kindly donated all the labour and machinery used to prepare the ground for the memorial.
The metal used for the soldiers was sent to Roan Fabrications (based in Denton) and laser cutters were used to form their shape.
Stilton Parish Council is very grateful to the three companies named above for providing their labour, time, and material free of charge and especially to Barry Gilden and Anthony Edwards for their never-ending commitment to ensuring the project was completed.
The memorial dedication took place on 2nd November 2019, with approximately 100 people in attendance. Tony and Barry received very positive comments from parishioners.
The icing on the cake was that, following a visit to the Memorial Hall by a former Stilton resident, he contacted Mr Gilden to ask where the missing plaques were. As a result, Mr Scotney was able to attend the memorial dedication to his father’s name amongst the fallen. He can be seen in photo below standing beside the memorial.
On the anniversary of every soldier’s death and those not mentioned on the plaques, Tony has lowered the flag to half-mast and posted on social media a brief history and picture of that soldier.
There is also a picture of a little girl placing some flowers at the memorial. It is a powerful reminder that the words used on Remembrance Day are used as a title along with the photo.