Remembering in South Ayrshire

 12 November 2018  |  


Beach portraits remember the fallen

Beach portraits remember the fallen

Hundreds of people came together on Ayr beach and at the War Memorial in Ayr on Sunday to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War and remember all those lost in battle. 

The commemorations in Ayr began with the sound of the bagpipes playing Battle's O'er beside the Cenotaph in Wellington Square at 6am before the commemorations moved to Ayr beach for the Pages of the Sea tribute, led by film director Danny Boyle and organised in conjunction with the National Theatre of Scotland.

Ayr was one of only six Scottish locations selected for the tribute and featured the stunning creation of a sand portrait of Second Lieutenant Walter Tull, the British Army's first black officer.

Walter's great grand-nephew, Tor Justad, was there to see the clever creation take shape and said he was very moved by the tribute to his ancestor and the other soldiers like him who gave their lives in battle.

Watching on was Ayr veteran, William Brodie (87), whose grandfather and great-uncle fought in the war, before William himself followed in their footsteps and served as a soldier in Britain and in the Mediterranean. He said: "This is a gracious tribute and recognition for all those who have served and I'm glad I came along to see it."

Many of the hundreds who came along to the beach – including South Ayrshire Provost Helen Moonie and Ayr resident Linda Kiltie – took the time to create a sand silhouette representing the many who left our shores during the war, never to return.

Linda's silhouette was in memory of her great uncle, Private Robert Kiltie who served in World War One and died on 12 April 1918, aged just 19. Linda said: "This was an outstanding event which allowed everyone there to say goodbye and shed some tears, including me. It also had people who had never met, talking to each other about their own hero. " 

There were many stories like Linda's among the people on the beach. A group from the Gaiety Theatre led the crowds in a poignant recitation of the Carol Ann Duffy poem written especially for the commemorations, The Wound in Time, before they watched the tide wash the silhouettes and Walter's portrait away.

There was very much a community basis to all the commemorations, with the Service of Remembrance at the Auld Kirk in Ayr featuring the banner of more than 4,100 knitted, crocheted and handmade poppies created by people and communities across South Ayrshire.

The congregation then paraded to the Cenotaph at Wellington Square, where Reverend David Gemmell gave a moving and passionate sermon on the importance of learning the lessons of war and recognising the sacrifices that others had made for the greater good.

Wreaths were then laid by Lord Lieutenant of Ayrshire & Arran, Sheriff Iona McDonald, Provost Moonie, members of Parliaments and the Council, and representatives of the armed forces, British Legion, Ayr Ex-Services Club, schools and communities.

Provost Moonie said: "The  commemorations show that the memories and the legacies of all those lost through battles and wars well and truly live on and that, here in South Ayrshire, we know we will ne'er forget the people.

"I was humbled and moved by the support shown by our people and places and was very proud to be part of this historic occasion marking the centenary of the end of World War One.

"My thanks to everyone who took the time to participate, pay tribute and show that South Ayrshire remembers."