From the 2nd November until the 17th November our U3A presented three outstanding events.
The first was the opening of the exhibition and book launch by Rear Admiral Colin Cook-Priest at the Royal British Legion on the 2nd November. The Rear Admiral gave a heartfelt appreciation for the effort that had gone into the book and its contribution to the history of the Island. The Mayor of Havant also attended as did Alan Mak, MP for Havant. Over the two weeks the exhibition was very well attended by Hayling Islanders, school children and many visitors from the mainland. Visitors were very complimentary about the exhibition, with comments of 'excellent' and commending its broad coverage of the years, interesting facts, illustrations, artefacts and Timelines. Likewise the book ‘Hayling Island, The Years of Change 1919 - 1946' was praised for the quality and content and many dozens were sold to the visitors.
The second event was a special service at St Mary's Church to unveil an additional memorial plaque to 19 Hayling servicemen who had lost their lives during WW2 whose names had not been recorded on existing plaques. A very moving service, when local schools and the College took part, 19 pupils placed a poppy and lit a candle as each serviceman's name was read out by the Head Boy of the college and the Head Girl read the poem 'Perhaps', by Vera Brittain. The service ended with a Hayling College student singing 'Keep the home fires burning' which brought a tear to many an eye.
The final event was on 13th November when the Mayor of Havant, Cllr Diana Patrick, unveiled a simple wooden plaque to all the civilian Men, Women and Children who lost their lives through enemy action on Hayling Island during WW2. Her speech is shown below
Hayling Island U3A with the help of the whole community presented three memorable events which brought together many organisations, families and individuals. The U3A were honoured to be able to interview men and women who served on Hayling Island during the war years.
Shown below is the Mayor’s speech at the unveiling of a memorial to the civilian casualties killed by enemy action on Hayling Island during World War 2, on Wednesday 13 November 2019 at Hayling Island Community Centre
“Over the last couple of weeks I have been involved with the Hayling Island U3A commemorations of the period from the end of World War One to the end of the Second World War.
First we had the launch of your superb book “Hayling Island The Years of Change 1919 – 1946” followed by the opening of the Exhibition in the Royal British Legion room, a presentation of top professional quality, and then the Service in St Mary’s Church to unveil a new plaque to commemorate servicemen from the Island killed in battle whose names had not previously been publicly recorded. It was a moving and lovely Service enhanced by the way in which you incorporated schoolchildren and others from the wider Hayling Community: bringing the Lions and The Royal British Legion into the project.
And so we move on to the final event: the unveiling of the Memorial to the Hayling Island civilians who were killed on the Island in consequence of enemy action.
Before I do I must first commend Michael Burnham, most ably supported by his wife Jill, who conceived the project, gathered support around him, and worked towards this wonderful series of events: and to Paul Chapman for leading the Book Launch the other Saturday and Derek Dunn for today’s event.
I have been astonished by the quality of the book, the incredible standard of the Exhibition, and deeply moved by the Memorial Service. And I am most grateful to have been invited. But if I might say so, the whole project has been an unbelievable example of the ability, skills and professional abilities that still reside in older people and which can be utilised to the benefit of all. We are perhaps far too ready as a society to write older people off and to disregard the manifest abilities and skills that they can offer for the benefit of our community.
And so we move on to the final ceremony of your commemorations. I know from my conversation with Derek that you were unable to be absolutely satisfied that you had garnered all the names of the Islanders killed by enemy action: and that you have worded a general and respectful inscription. I also gathered that this is the first memorial on the Island to the civilian war dead.
It is hard to realise, at this distance in time, the horrors wrought by War, even on this peaceful and gentle Island. In unveiling this plaque I do so with the greatest regard for the people who died, in gratitude for their contribution to the War effort that was ultimately successful, and with a deep desire that such sacrifice will never be required again.”
Cllr Diana Patrick, Mayor of Havant