Publish date: 9 November 2023
The annual commemoration of remembrance at our Whalley learning disability site, which was used as a soldier’s hospital during two World Wards, took place last weekend alongside the Royal British Legion.
The day began with a parade of members of the Legion, veterans with music from Lostock Band and then vicar of Whalley held an act of remembrance in the war cemetery on the site. This included the laying of wreaths by the Ribble Valley Mayor and Elaine Darbyshire, Mersey Care’s Chief Communications, Engagement and Estates Officer.
As the Whalley hospital was being built during the First World War, its purpose was diverted to receive soldiers from the battle, and it was renamed Queen Mary’s Military Hospital. It became a military hospital again in the Second World War, this time divided to continue supporting its regular patients. Finally, parts of the site welcomed refugees from the Balkan wars of the late 1990s for a period before large parts of the old hospital were demolished in 2000.
This year’s service also featured a special commemoration for those buried in old hospital cemetery which adjoins the war memorial. That cemetery has seen a long period of decline as private ownership changed.
With this being the final year of the direct linkages to the old hospital, a period of reflection was appropriate. This gave those attending the remembrance event time to take part in remembering the many who lived their lives in the hospital under very different models of care during the last century. The Legion supported this brief ceremony with a parade of Standards as floral tributes were placed and the chaplain led prayers. This aspect of the day was especially well received by community leaders and stakeholders.
Representatives from Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS also participated for the first time. That Trust will be taking on the Whalley site in the near future, and will run new services from there after Mersey Care relocates its low secure provision to the new Aspen Wood site in Maghull. They have been keen to continue the tradition of the annual remembrance parade and service.
A special thank you to Herbstones and the Whalley Facilities Team for their support on the day.