THEY shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old: age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn...
The well-known Ode of Remembrance took on extra poignancy yesterday as hundreds of St Annes residents gathered to pay their respects to two local soldiers who gave their lives for their country.
A special ceremony took place as a new plaque was unveiled on the Ashton Gardens war memorial to commemorate the lives of Sgt Nigel Coupe – killed in action in Afghanistan in March – and LCpl Stephen Burrows, who died in Northern Ireland in 1990.
Members of both families joined residents for the sombre and moving ceremony, which was led by the Rev David Lyon, vicar of the parish church of St Annes, and Padre Philip Burrows, of Weeton Barracks.
Father David Lyon, Vicar of St Annes Church said: “We are gathered here today in the presence of God to rededicate this memorial to the memory of LCpl Stephen Burrows and Sgt Nigel Coupe, who sacrificed their lives in the service of their God, country and fellow men.”
The other conflicts plaque on the town’s memorial had to be re-cast to include father-of-two Sgt Coupe’s name, and was re-dedicated to LCpl Burrows’ at yesterday’s ceremony.
Sgt Coupe, a member of the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment and a former pupil at Mayfield Primary School in St Annes, was 33 when he died alongside five of his comrades after the armoured vehicle they were travelling in was destroyed by a Taliban bomb.
LCpl Burrows lost his life in a car bomb attack at an army checkpoint 22 years ago.
The touching service included the reading of names, laying of wreaths, the Last Post bugle requiem, bugle reveille, prayers and the reading of a poem by Nicola Marlton-Thomas, the widow of Cpl Loren Marlton-Thomas, who died while searching for roadside bombs in Afghanistan in 2009.
Fylde Mayor Coun Heather Speak was among the guests and said: “The new plaque for Sgt Coupe and LCpl Burrows is a reminder that conflict is rarely absent.
“People may once have imagined that the world wars would herald an era of peace, sadly we know that has not been the case and men have continued to lose their lives. The people of Fylde honoured their memory by turning out in good numbers on such a solemn occasion.”
Coun Ed Nash, Fylde Council’s armed forces member, added: “Both Sergeant Coupe and LCpl Burrows lost their lives making life safer for the rest of us and that must never be forgotten. We will never take the bravery of our troops for granted.”
Fylde MP Mark Menzies also attended, joined by army representatives, councillors, regimental association representatives, and representatives from the War Memorials Trust.