A month-long programme of special events came to a stunning climax on Sunday as Galashiels remembered its war dead in one of the largest weekend-long acts of remembrance the town has ever seen.
The ambitions project, Gala Remembers 2018, pulled together by a number of community organisations to help remember, in the most public way yet, the 639 Galashiels men killed between in the 1914 and 1918 conflict.
Led by community group Energise Galashiels Trust, the project included exhibitions, lectures, film screenings, live music, light displays, street art and acts of remembrance.
A one-off Festival of Remembrance concert sold out the Volunteer Hall on Friday night, and the Royal British Legion Scotland’s remembrance parade on Sunday was larger than ever. The commemorations ended with a special Angel’s Wings service that evening, for which more than 200 people gathered to see the town’s street lights turn off revealing the shadow of wings behind the war memorial’s stone angel, only visible in a certain light. Compared by Alasdair Hutton, the ceremony featured Galashiels’ town and pipe bands and Langlee choir, and photographs of the town’s war dead shown on a big screen. An act of remembrance concluded with a prayer by Rev Michael Scouler.
Bill White, chairman of the Gala Remembers 2018 has hailed the project a huge success. “The aim of Gala Remembers 2018 was also to create a legacy to continue this project in the future,” he said. “And alongside the various other projects being taken forward, it has the potential to help transform the town in the coming years.”
Mike Gray, chairman of Energise Galashiels Trust said: “Gala Remembers 2018 was a fantastic project which helped bring the town together and highlighted the importance of community engagement at the start of a major regeneration scheme of the town where partnership working is key.”
Sunday morning’s parade was led by parade commander Stuart Fleming, who said: “We had a very large turnout for the marching contingent of the parade including the town’s Boys Brigade, Guides, Air Training Corps, Army Cadets and Soldiers from 8 Platoon Army Reserve. There were also a few hundred at the war memorial.”
Councillor Mark Rowley, Scottish Borders Council’s executive member for business and economic development, added: “I am delighted to hear Gala Remembers 2018 has enjoyed such a successful year.
“A huge amount of hard work has gone into the programme from various community partners, and I am pleased the Council was able to support the project which brought people to Galashiels and the Scottish Borders.
“We are at the start of an exciting new journey for Galashiels, with the regeneration of the town through various projects such as the new national visitor attraction for the Great Tapestry of Scotland, the Galashiels Masterplan and the Galashiels BID initiative.
“I hope the Gala Remembers 2018 partnership model can be part of this regeneration of the town going forward, and help create economic, social and educational benefits for Galashiels and the Scottish Borders.”