The Royal British Legion allowed UKAFHA member Jon Wilkes to lay a wreath for the second year running. Jon joined the ceremony on behalf of North Devon Humanists (a sub-group of the BHA partnership group Devon Humanists) and UK Armed Forces Humanist Association. This is his account:
The ceremony was attended by about 500 members of the public, many wearing their own or their parent’s medals, the MP for North Devon Nick Harvey, the Barnstaple Mayor and her Town Council, representatives from Devon County Council and North Devon Council, and many local organisations such as the Barnstaple Town Marching Band, a young persons’ music band, scouts, cubs, guides, Lions Club, Rotary, Soroptimists, sea cadets, army cadets, Air Training Corps – and a man in a white frock and long black cloak who was in charge of the microphone part of ceremony and who intoned the normal short Church of England prayers and epitaphs (all these are prescribed in the Royal British Legion order of service for remembrance day ceremonies, I have discovered). Afterwards, those who thought it their duty and those few others who wished, loosely marched to the Barnstaple Parish church for a Forward in Faith (C of E) service. Naturally, I did not join them, although I remain curious as to the number of attendees. The wreath-laying ceremony was a large turnout of the public and dignitaries for thinly-populated North Devon, and seems to be more popular each year.
I was disappointed that the excellent initiative on the part of BHA (and UKAFHA) to raise the profile of those of no faith being excluded from the London ceremony was raised far too late to help me in rural North Devon persuade the authorities (Barnstaple Town Council) to rearrange the ceremony to be led by a master of ceremonies with no religious affiliation and to not include Church of England prayers and hymn music (as prescribed in the RBL service). At the moment I am trying to make arrangements to attend the UKAFHA AGM on 12 January and if I manage to make it to the meeting I will request that this subject be discussed. In order to affect change, I need your future support behind the scenes, perhaps in league with BHA.