The BNTVA memorial Stone had been moved during the alterations to accommodate Manchester’s tram system. The area around the main Cenotaph had been redesigned but it appeared that the memorial stone which had been dedicated by British Nuclear Test Veterans some years before had completely disappeared.
Local Veteran and former National Standard Bearer Terry Washington was very concerned at the apparent loss of his local memorial and campaigned for a number of years to have it located and restored. Sean Morris, Principal Policy and Research Officer at Manchester City Council, has been a long time supporter of the British Nuclear Veterans cause and he teamed up with Terry to make this happen.
The NCCF had been aiming to unveil the enhancements to its National Memorial at the NMA during NAVAD 2017 but delays over planning applications meant that building work would not be able to start there until the ground stabilised after winter in 2018. Jeff Liddiatt, NCCF Chairman had taken a keen interest in the plight of the Manchester memorial and its discovery presented the ideal opportunity to combine its relocation with a formal unveiling and rededication ceremony.
The stage was set, BNTVA Chaplain, The Very Reverend Nicholas Frayling worked on the service and dedication ceremonies, organising contributions from multi-faith leaders and dignitaries from the Manchester community. The NCCF organised the Bugler, Piper and advertising of the event while Sean managed the Council contribution and approached the Lord Mayor of Manchester to take part in the event.
The original memorial was a single stone which was laid flat however, Manchester Council decided that they wanted to improve the appearance of the memorial in its new home by mounting the original one on an impressive sloped plinth. Under the NCCF Remembrance project, we are installing QR Codes on all memorials, these code plaques can be scanned by smartphones and link the visitor into our new virtual museum. The Manchester Memorial became the first one to be included in this exciting venture.
After a lot of planning the event was set and it was announced that the ceremony would be followed with a Civic Reception hosted by the Lord Mayor of Manchester.
We gathered on what started as a damp October day beside the magnificent Manchester Town Hall. As the ceremony commenced the Piper began to play, the sounds of the city dampened down and many people paused to watch, the skies cleared and the sun broke down upon us.
There could only be one person to unveil the new memorial, the same person who’s dogged determination had resulted in its restoration, Terry Washington. After the event, we spoke to Terry and he remembered the people he was with on the day the original stone was dedicated, He said:
“Those lads have all gone now but they would be pleased to see they are still remembered, it’s been a very emotional day for me.”
Alan Owen and Jeff Liddiatt laid wreaths from the BNTVA and the NCCF. Don James and Ron Watson were Standard Bearers for the event. The lament, faultlessly played by the Piper brought many people to a halt in the centre of that busy city.
The comments from the heads of the multiple faiths represented in Manchester reminded us that remembrance and the lessons we need to learn from it are the same across all religions and peoples.
Once the ceremony ended the Lord Mayor of Manchester, Councillor Eddy Newman invited all to a Civic Reception in the decorative Town Hall. At the end of the reception, a number of speeches were given including a moving thank you to the people of Manchester from BNTVA Chairman, Alan Owen.