ON THE morning of Sunday, November 10, Andover remembered them.

Hundreds of residents filled the town’s streets and the grounds of the church’s garden of remembrance to honour the country’s fallen heroes who gave their lives in conflict.

Veterans, serving military, residents, local dignitaries, cadets, scouts, guides and brownies stood side by side as Andover united to pay its respects.

A parade marched from Bridge Street, through Eastern Avenue, and up to the grounds of St Mary’s Church where Reverend Chris Bradish conducted the Remembrance Sunday service.

Speaking at the service, the reverend said: “Recalling the past is not enough in itself. The events and people we honour today demand a deeper response.

"As we gather, we assume a collective responsibility to remember in such a way that inspires us towards a more peaceful and hope-filled future in which all can thrive.”

Following prayers, hymns, two minutes’ silence and the ceremonial laying of the wreaths, the parade then took to the streets once more to return, fittingly, to where it had started in the town centre.

With many of the town’s shops still yet to open, spectators had filed down the high street in their hundreds to secure their spots for the parade.

Just after 10.10am, the bagpipers and percussionists of the Southern Jacobite Pipe Band got the procession underway.

As marchers passed through Bridge Street they were met with applause from spectators, who then scampered on to St Mary’s Church ahead of the 10.45am service.

Meanwhile the parade continued up Eastern Avenue and into Church Close and the garden of remembrance to take their standing positions.

The scene could hardly have been more different to that of 24 hours prior.

In stark contract to Saturday’s downpour, the church grounds were filled with unbridled sunshine - as well as the sounds of the Test Valley Brass Band - before reverend Bradish officially commenced the service.

He noted that this year marked the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Imphal and Kohima, fought by an army referred to as the ‘forgotten army’ and comprising troops from Britain, pre-partition India, Nepal, East and West Africa.

Reverend Bradish continued: “An army brought together from many nations, faiths, cultures and perspectives who dared to hope that there was a better future.  They fought in the name of peace and they are not a forgotten army today.  

“Neither are the 17 Andovarians whose names have been set in stone on this Cenotaph during the last year.  Their stories of courage and sacrifice might also have been missed, lost in time, but for the diligence and care of the people of this town to remember well.

“With all those from our town who sacrificed so much – brothers, sisters, parents, grandparents and great grandparents to many of you here today, but who likely never grew old themselves, they are not forgotten.”

Bystanders young and old then joined in a rendition of Jerusalem, by William Blake, ahead of further addresses by Reverend Bradish, Test Valley mayor Councillor Martin Hatley, the Burma Star Association Andover and the Andover Branch of the Royal British Legion.

And at the stroke of 11am, as the rest of the nation fell quiet, so too did the people of Andover for a beautifully observed two minutes’ silence.

The Deputy Lieutenant of Hampshire and Cllr Hatley laid the first of the morning’s wreaths, and after further prayers and blessing from Reverend Bradish and a lone bagpiper’s from, the national anthem rang through the grounds to bring the service to an end. 

The parade then retraced its route back to the town centre as the ceremony drew to a close at around midday.

Those present praised both the service and the turnout from those in the town.

“What a lovely setting,” said Gill Belbin.

“I come most years. I was born here, not of a military background at all but as you get older you realise how poignant it is.

“I think every year there seems to be more people.”

Steve Toon, commenting on the Advertiser’s Facebook page, wrote: “Looks like the biggest crowd since I can remember, back to 1979/80 time.”