More than 600 of Galashiels’ menfolk – one in 14 of the town’s male population – gave up their lives to help the allies win the First World War, andnow a series of events is being organised to ensure their sacrifices are not forgotten.
A programme of entertainment and educational events is being lined up as part of the Gala Remembers 2018 project, an initiative marking the 100th anniversary of the end of the 1914-18 conflict.
A series of community organisations have come together, led by regeneration trust Energise Galashiels, to host exhibitions, lectures, film screenings, live music, light displays, street art and acts of remembrance expected to attract a turnout of thousands in October and November.
The Pavilion Cinema, in Market Street, is holding a First World War season with films such as 2011’s Steven Spielberg-directed War Horse and 1969’s Oh! What a Lovely War, starring Laurence Olivier and John Gielgud, being screened.
A First World War-themed afternoon tea and dance will be hosted by Livingstone Place’s Focus Centre, and the town’s Park Street Royal British Legion club will stage a period cabaret.
At the centre of proceedings will be a festival of remembrance at Galashiels Volunteer Hall on Friday, November 9, and two remembrance services at the town’s Cornmill Square war memorial on Sunday, November 11, at 11am and 7.30pm.
There will also be several educational opportunities, with four lectures looking at the role of animals, hospitals, Canadians and Scotland rugby internationals during the war.
Genealogy research will take place too, and primary school pupils will be offered opportunities to learn more about the war and the 10m lives it claimed.
Energise Galashiels chairman Mike Gray said: “The First World War had a devastating impact on towns such as Galashiels, which lost 7% of its male population as a result of the conflict.
“However, it also provided a number of fascinating stories which have inspired films, books, research and exhibitions.”
Bill White, chairman of the Gala Remembers 2018 partnership, added: “As part of a respectful commemoration of the First World War, Gala Remembers 2018 has a wide variety of events being offered by the various community organisations involved, with the aim that a legacy will be created to continue this project in the future as Galashiels undergoes a major regeneration.”
For further details, go to www.energisegalashiels.co.uk
Community groups involved in the project include Borders Family History Society, the Boys’ Brigade, Langlee Community Choir, Galashiels Ex-Braw Lads and Lasses’ Association, Galashiels Academy and the town’s primary schools, camera club and community council.