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Thousands turn out to solemnly pay tribute to the fallen; Servicemen and women who lost their lives in conflict were remembered at hundreds of events across the country at the weekend. Here, Tom Houghton looks at some of the services that took place in South Wales...

SENIOR royals attended the Royal Festival of Remembrance in London, while top Welsh Government politicians were in Cardiff at the weekend to pay their tributes to those who have lost their lives in conflict through the year.

But these events were among hundreds taking place in cities, towns and villages across the UK to remember fallen servicemen and women.

Services and parades in South Wales at the weekend were attended by thousands.

They included Merthyr Tydfil, which was painted red as hundreds turned out across the borough to remember fallen soldiers.

The Remembrance service was one of the best attended the county borough has ever seen, and St David's Parish Church was packed.

People turned up from across the county borough wearing their poppies to honour those who sacrifice their lives for our country.

This year's service was attended by officials including the Lord Lieutenant of Mid Glamorgan, Kate Thomas, High Sheriff of Mid Glamorgan, David Davies, Gerald Jones MP, Dawn Bowden AM and the mayor, Councillor Kevin Gibbs.

Representatives from South Wales Police, South Wales Fire and Rescue, Royal British Legion chairman Andrew Elliott and other Legion members also paid their respects along with people from St John Ambulance, military organisations, cadets, Scouts, Girl Guides and Brownies.

Coun Gibbs said: "For many people, Remembrance is associated with the fallen of the First and Second World Wars.

"While we will always remember them, the Royal British Legion wants to raise awareness of a new generation of veterans and service personnel that also need our support.

"Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council supports the Royal British Legion by recognising the sacrifices made not just by the armed forces of the past, but also for today's new generation too."

Many people also took part in a parade following the service, and walked to the war memorial, where Father Mark Prevett led a short service.

This was followed by the laying of wreaths, which took place in remembrance of those who lost their lives. Elsewhere on Sunday, around 1,000 people attended a service in the centre of Aberdare to remember those who lost their lives in conflict.

It was one of several events that took place in the Cynon Valley, and those who attended observed a two-minute silence.

Jason Cotter, branch chairman of the Aberdare Royal British Legion, said: "The event was outstanding. The amount of people who were there was brilliant. We were struggling to get everyone around the Cenotaph.

"It was nice to see so many people from young all the way through to the veterans in attendance.

"The Remembrance events here are growing every year and I think 1,000 people were there, if not more."

Nearby, an event took place in Ynysybwl at the village Cenotaph. David Leighton James MBE said: "The Ynysybwl branch Royal British Legion wish to thank all attendees and participants at the service for honouring those of our village who made the supreme sacrifice."

Rhondda Cynon Taf mayor Margaret Tegg and Cynon Valley AM Vikki Howells led the wreath-laying, and 39 wreaths were laid by representatives of different organisations.

Each one was then handed to the wreath-layer by individual cadets from Rhondda Sea Cadet Corps and 2004 Squadron Pontypridd ATC.

The parade was managed by former Royal Welsh warrant officer Barrie Williams.

Mr Leighton James added: "It was good to see a village lad, Chief Inspector Ian Randall, delegated by the South Wales Police Service to lay a wreath on its behalf.

"Coincidentally, Chief Inspector Ian Randall and Ynysybwl branch president Colonel Huw James were in the same class at Trerobart Primary School, Ynysybwl."

Parades were also "well attended" in Abercynon and Mountain Ash.

Hundreds also attended services across Pontypridd and the Taff Ely area as poignant events took place across the district, including at Ynysangharad Park.

Organised by Pontypridd Town Council, the event reportedly saw hundreds turn up to pay their respects, led by deputy mayor Linda Davies.

A spokeswoman from the council said: "It went very well and it was great to see so many young people there.

"We were lucky with the weather and it was a lovely event. It's so important to remember those who have given their lives for our freedom."

Similarly, hundreds of people were seen at services in the Rhondda Valley, including in Tonypandy.

Among those in attendance at that event was councillor for the town Gareth Wyn Hughes, who laid a wreath, as well as representatives from the Rhondda Sea Cadets, the Scouts, Girl Guides, Tonypandy Community College and the Royal British Legion.

Coun Hughes said: "I was honoured to attend my first Remembrance parade and lay a wreath as the county borough councillor for Tonypandy in remembrance of all those who have served their country.

"There was a fantastic turnout from the community and local groups. It was fantastic to see such great community spirit."

An annual Festival of Remembrance concert was held at the weekend, and featured performances from a Dutch male choir to a famous Welsh military band.

It followed Rhondda Cynon Taff's annual Festival of Remembrance, which was held at the Park and Dare Theatre, in Treorchy, and honoured our armed forces past and present.

As well as that, colleagues and families of police officers and staff who have died while in service were invited to attend a special Remembrance and dedication event on Friday at South Wales Police headquarters in Bridgend.

The annual service of Remembrance was led by Chief Constable Peter Vaughan, and the force chaplain, the Reverend Glynne James, officiated.

Some of the descendants of the men named on the memorial were also in attendance. They included the grandson of ex-rugby international Dick Thomas, who had previously served in the Aberdare, Ystrad Mynach and Bridgend areas of the force and was killed in action at Mametz Wood in 1916.

In total, 93 officers who served with predecessor forces died during the First World War.

The Archbishop of Wales, the Most Reverend John Davies, then led the rededication of the new memorial gardens, before wreaths and floral tributes were laid by families and colleagues. The chief constable also laid a wreath at the memorial sundial.

Chief Constable Peter Vaughan said: "When we realised the previous garden would need to be moved we decided this was an opportunity to create a new space befitting the memory of all colleagues who have passed away while serving the force and its communities.

"The grounds to the front of the building have been transformed and the garden is now prominently positioned directly opposite our war memorial. A slate sun-dial which featured in the previous garden has been repositioned, and can now be found opposite the main entrance, a location which we hope will serve as an appropriate reminder of the relevance and importance of our police family."
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Nov 15, 2017
Previous Article:events DiArY.
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