A Didcot park has been designated a ‘Centenary Field’ to remember those killed during the First World War. The Smallbone Recreation Ground, next to the civic hall, will be protected by the designation and always remain as a living memorial to those who gave their lives during the conflict.

Permanent Memorial

Didcot Town Council and the Royal British Legion held a ceremony yesterday afternoon, joined by veterans and local schoolchildren, to officially mark the designation. It comes as part of a nationwide initiative led by charity Fields in Trust to dedicate parks and green spaces in memory of the millions who died. Nick Hards, a member of the town’s First World War working group, said: “Dedicating this land as a Field in Trust will give Didcot residents a permanent memorial to our ancestors who sacrificed their lives for all of us.” Smallbone already hosts the town’s Remembrance Sunday service and parade and is the site of its war memorial.

Dedication

The Didcot branch of the Royal British Legion approached the council about designating the field as part of the national commemorations, planned for November, when the country will mark the centenary of the Armistice ending the Great War. Didcot Mayor Bill Service has also organised for a stained glass window to be installed at the civic hall as a further memorial. Secretary of the Royal British Legion in Didcot Julia Underwood said: “The dedication of this area will protect Didcot’s war memorial and the recreation ground in perpetuity for future generations, as the nation remembers the millions who lost lives in the First World War. “The Legion is committed to helping young people understand about remembrance, conflict and the importance of peace.”

Honour

During the dedication service, pupils from schools in Didcot laid a remembrance cross in honour of each of the First World War names on the war memorial and others connected with Didcot who lost their lives. Ms Underwood added: “The Legion is extremely grateful to the schools for their participation in helping the Legion, the town council and the community of Didcot, especially being an Army town, to come together to pay our respects and honour those who gave so much for our freedom and our future.” At the same ceremony, a plaque was unveiled in memory of all the animals who were killed during the war. This has been jointly funded by the town council and local veterinary practices Larkmead and Abivale.