As we reported in the last edition of Exposure, the West Yorkshire Branch of the old BNTVA had contacted the NCCF to see if they could help with the laying up of their Branch Standard, working with members of the old Branch and staff at Leeds Minster a ceremony was organised for the 7th October 2018.
As part of the Remembrance project, this also presented an opportunity to organise the refurbishment of the Leeds memorial. Sited in the grounds of the Minster the West Yorkshire Branch memorial is tended by volunteers from the Minster.
Natural Cut Stone, creators of the National Memorial, visited Leeds and carefully worked on the stone using their specialist non-destructive cleaning equipment bringing the memorial back to the condition when it was first erected.
On the 7th Veterans and their families began to gather at the Minster where they were greeted with refreshments from the Minsters cafe. At 16:00 hours the Rector, Canon Sam Chorley commenced the rededication ceremony at the memorial.
Attended by Her Majesties representative The Lord Lieutenant of West Yorkshire, The Lord Mayor and the Lady Mayoress of Leeds, The Deputy Leader of Leeds City Council, and Nuclear Free Local Authorities English Forum Chair, Councillor David Blackburn and other public dignitaries, Nuclear Veteran Brian Gay proudly unveiled the restored memorial. A reading was given during the service by veterans son and former BNTVA Chairman, Nigel Heaps MBE which was followed by a laying of wreaths. Lord Lieutenant of West Yorkshire laid a wreath on behalf of the Queen, Martin Blackburn, also the son of a veteran and Trustee of the NCCF laid a wreath on behalf of the NCCF and Mr Eric Barton, Nuclear Veteran and Trustee of the BNTVA laid a wreath on behalf of the BNTVA.
Brian had been a mainstay of the old Leeds Branch and was surrounded by family and friends during the ceremony. “It was a great honour to unveil the memorial, remembering all those lads that aren’t here anymore, I think we have done them proud and now we need to look to our children and grandchildren for the future.”
Everyone returned to the Minster cafe where a complimentary afternoon tea funded by the NCCF was available to all. The refreshment period enabled guests to mingle, chat and reminisce, The Lord Mayor of Leeds, Councillor Graham Latty, himself a veteran of the Nuclear Tests was able to learn about both the NCCF and the BNTVA.
Sean Morris, Secretary of the NFLA also attended, Sean was the mainstay in the Manchester council helping organise NAVAD 2017 and the re-siting of the Manchester Memorial.
At 17:00 guests were invited to the Evensong service at the Minster where the Standard of the West Yorkshire Branch was paraded through the Mister by Bearer Don James, with Nigel Heaps MBE acting as escort. At the altar, the standard was given to Canon Sam Chorley who took it into the care of the Minster in the formal laying up ceremony.
At the end of the evening, a final reception in the Minster’s cafe enabled all the guests to say their goodbyes before departing for home.