Thursday 10th June

Virtual Parade 2020

This year marks the 75th Anniversary of a number of key events in WW2, namely Victory in Europe (VE) Day and Victory in Japan (VJ) Day. In order to commemorate these occasions, there were a large number of events that had been planned across the country. Unfortunately, this wasn’t to be.

The global coronavirus pandemic meant that the whole country, like many others around the world was put into lockdown and all of the plans that had been made had to be quickly changed. In Cambridgeshire this meant a number of flag-raising events had to be cancelled, including the one at Pathfinder House in Huntingdon. It also meant that the Drum Head service at Ramsey was called off.

Despite the lockdown the Standard Bearer community was determined to make sure that the sacrifices of the those that brought the war in Europe to a close would still be remembered and the heroes who returned would still be honoured.

The initial idea was to perform an Act of Homage at home in private to ensure that everyone was remembered. After mentioning it on social media within The Legion a number of people thought it would be a good idea to try and put it live on the internet and have us all perform it at the same time. One of the first to come back was the Spain North Parade Marshal.

As the idea got more and more interest, it went onto Facebook and it turned out that a number of people had similar ideas, including our very own Media & Broadcast Director Andy. Deciding to pool our resources we tried to get as many standard bearers involved as we could. Local press and national press coverage definitely helped and we ended up with well over 400 people taking part.

The idea morphed from just an Act of Homage into a full service with a blessing from the local vicar in Huntingdon, Jon Randall, and a special recording of “We’ll Meet Again” by international opera singer Emma Brown.

As more and more people joined in from across the UK and further afield, we ended up having thousands of images of Standard Bearers, Parade Marshalls and serving members from many different groups. This included submissions from Belgium, Spain, Cyprus, Gibraltar, Argentina, Isle of Man and Ireland. We also had our youngest Standard Bearer Lola who was 5.

In fact, we had so many come through that we couldn’t fit them all into the video that was produced. The decision was made to focus on those that were showing standards at the carry or dipped to make the video easier to edit. Even then it took an entire week of both myself and my wife Holley working late into the night to pull it all together.

With so many images that we couldn’t include we quickly decided that we would make a follow up video showing everything that had been submitted.

The press coverage for the service was truly great with several mentions on the BBC, from the website to The One Show and a piece on BBC Breakfast, ITV and Channel 4’s The Steph Show. We had people taking part talking to their local media as well which was fantastic. We were also very fortunate that BBC Radio Cambridgeshire actually played out the audio from the virtual service as their coverage for VE Day.

In the end we didn’t let a virus stop us from carrying out our purpose of Remembering the Fallen and honouring those who serve. We stayed true to the Exhortation that we recite at Remembrance service…  At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, We Will Remember Them