Youth members of Chatteris Royal British Legion make town proud and earn prestigious YOPEY award nomination
PUBLISHED: 11:33 02 July 2015 | UPDATED: 11:33 02 July 2015
Twelve Chatteris young people who have gone to great lengths to show their respects to the town’s fallen soldiers have been nominated for a prestigious award.
The youth members of the Chatteris British Legion have decorated a bus shelter in East Park Street to commemorate the centenary of the First World War and are refurbishing 30 graves in New Road cemetery of soldiers who died in the conflict.
They have been nominated for KISS Communications Young People of the Year awards (YOPEYs), which recognises community-spirited young people who go the extra mile.
Town Mayor Councillor James Carney, who himself has been a judge at two finals. “It was an eye-opener to see so many positive role models,” he said.
The group, made up of children aged 12 to 17, repainted the shelter to include silhouettes of two soldiers with rifles and heads bowed, a cross, poppies, and dates of the Great War. The work took place over 20 hours on evenings last summer.
“Their work has turned a featureless part of the town into a focal point. It got the locals talking and paying the youngsters compliments,” said Cllr Carney. “Townspeople like and are proud of this group.”
They scrubbed down the headstones with equipment donated by businesses and the town council. They tidied up the graves by weeding, clearing undergowth, re-setting stones and putting in fresh gravel. One headstone had collapsed and was re-instated by youngsters with the help of council workers.
“The graves may have been neglected because relatives have passed away or left the areas,” said Councillor Carney. “They are in a better condition and look almost as good as new.”
The youngsters are also taking part in short ceremonies called Every Man Remembered which pays tribute to each of 157 men from the town on the day that they died in the war. This will continue until 2021, 100 years after the last soldier from Chatteris died from his wounds.
In December, at the carol service in St Peter and St Paul’s church on Market Hill, youngsters re-enacted the famous Christmas truce in the war when British and German troops left their trenches, downed weapons and played football.
Councillor Carney said that the group had made its mark on the town in a short time.
“The youngsters are doing the town proud. The town council has and will continue to support them.
“They are great examples of their generation and they are making sure that those who give their lives are not forgotten.”
Leah Templeman, of Chatteris Royal British Legion, who leads the initiatives with the youngsters, said: “These are amazing kids. The local people know them and respect them and think that the projects they have worked on are wonderful.”