By Seb Pollington
BRITISH High Commissioner Ric Todd has led a series of activities to mark this year’s remembrance commemorations, including a wreath laying ceremony at the Wayne’s Keep military cemetery in the UN controlled buffer zone on Sunday ahead of Remembrance Day today.
In the year that marks the centenary of the start of one of the costliest conflicts in UK history, World War I, the British community has once again been displaying the poppy as its annual symbol of support for the memory of the fallen and the future of the living.
Armed forces personnel and members of the public around the world have taken time to remember those who have been lost to war. Its appeal seems to be continually rising.
Not surprisingly, Cyprus has played a significant part in commemorations.
The presence of so many members of the armed forces in the Sovereign Bases and a large service veteran community on the island adds a special dimension here.
Ric Todd was able to convey the appreciation of all to veterans Loizos Demetriou (93 years old and formerly of the Cyprus Regiment) and Tahsin Ali Riza (89, RAF) – both represent significant Cypriot veteran’s communities.
Scouts and young cadet organisations, so thriving here, also gathered to pay their respects; and last Thursday the Cyprus government attended a service at St Paul’s Cathedral in Nicosia organised by and with the Cyprus veterans themselves.
So, remembrance has become a big draw – and rightly.
Huge British-led services have been held across the island including in Episkopi (open-air with around 1000 people attending), Akrotiri (more than 1300) and Dhekelia (800) where the Last Post bugled its traditional mournful notes.
Young people have used social media to post individual reflections on the occasion.
In Nicosia, the international community gathered at Wayne’s Keep on Sunday to remember the 184 Service and supporting personnel who lost their lives whilst on duty in Cyprus.
And the ceramic poppy installation at the Tower of London – in place for the 2014 anniversary, has attracted overwhelming numbers of visitors in the last few weeks.
Britain originally created the Poppy Appeal to help those returning from the First World War.
A century on from the start of that conflict, the Royal British Legion is still helping today’s Armed Forces families in much the same way, whether coping with bereavement, living with disability, or finding employment.
The poppy is a powerful symbol. It is worn to commemorate the sacrifices of the armed forces and to show support to those still serving today and their loved ones.
Money raised through the Poppy Appeal goes directly to welfare work providing through life care to anyone who is currently serving in the British Armed Forces, who has previously served, and their families.
Colonel Seb Pollington is defence advisor at the British High Commission in Nicosia