LIGHTS across the nation went out on Monday night to commemorate 100 years since Britain entered into the First World War – and Woking was no exception.
In fact, the town centre’s Light’s Out ceremony at ChristChurch in Jubilee Square was a suitably fitting tribute, with people having lit candles throughout the day at the church’s memorial to the fallen.
Serenaded by the melodic Woking Choral Society, the pews filled up so fast that extra seating had to be found.
Veterans, councillors, members of the Royal British Legion, serving Armed Forces personnel, Freemen and members of the public united for the special 10pm service, led by Rev Dr Peter Harwood.
Woking Mayor Tony Branagan and Mick Bullen of the Red Cross gave readings, while serving Sergeant Andy Wright from Pirbright Training Centre read the poignant poem On Receiving News Of The War by Isaac Rosenberg.
And Second World War veteran Henry Rice (right) from the Royal Naval Association stirred the congregation with his recital of Wilfred Owen’s poem 1914 about the atrocities of war.
Woking MP Jonathan Lord told the News & Mail: “It was an incredibly moving service and wonderful to see ChristChurch full with a wide cross-section of the community, both the old and young.
“Woking Choral Society were in fine voice when they sang their various pieces, especially I Vow to Thee, My Country.”
After the service, the congregation gathered around Woking War Memorial in the square.
Mr Lord added: “It was particularly poignant when we then went outside and Mayor Branagan extinguished the final candle.
“There were services across the nation, but I do think Woking held a very fitting commemoration. As always, we do these things so well. I was very proud.”
Leader of Woking Borough Council, John Kingsbury, said: “I believe that the calm and reflective service, as well as the poignant poems and readings, fitted the occasion well.
“I was also pleased that the whole congregation, as well as passersby, joined in the ceremonial extinguishing of the final candle by the mayor in Jubilee Square. All in all it was a very moving occasion, marked also by more than 2,000 large red poppies purchased by the council from the Royal British Legion and placed around the town and villages as a token of our respect.”
People across the UK took part by turning off their lights from 10pm until 11pm and leaving on a single light or candle to mark the centenary.
Mayor Branagan extinguished the final light at 11pm, having read the words of Sir Edward Grey, the British Foreign Secretary in 1914, who said: “The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.”