Christa Ackroyd: Why some foolish girl will not stop us remembering Yorkshire’s heroes

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I’ll let you into a secret as to how I write this column. I have a little box of cuttings about subjects I hold dear which I may want to address when the time is right.

In that box is the story of a girl, a foolish girl, from a privileged background who was the president of her Students’ Union, who tweeted she wanted to paint over a mural commemorating students who died in World War One. I was saving it until this week for the launch of the Poppy Appeal in this special centenary year to beg us all to ignore her ignorance and support the Royal British Legion.

One of the many impressive poppy displays to make the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day. This one is at Otley church

One of the many impressive poppy displays to make the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day. This one is at Otley church

I needn’t have worried. In just a few short days Emily Dawes is now ‘on leave’ from her £20,000 a year job and has been roundly and rightly condemned for her stupidity by the students she purported to represent.

More importantly everywhere I look there is a sea of poppies reminding us of the ultimate sacrifice made by those who laid down their lives to give Ms Davies the freedom to say what she thought, even though she was totally and absolutely wrong.

Through my letter box this week came a beautiful little booklet entitled Ripponden Remembers, full of stories and photographs of local people who died fighting for their country.

For weeks local men and women have been making the cascade of poppies that now adorn the church bell tower.

Outside my two village primary schools in Stainland the railings are already full of the children’s spectacular poppy artwork.

And in a particularly moving tribute, thanks to the efforts of the Sowood Women’s Institute, the windows of 98 homes in one small community display a special centenary blue sticker each bearing the name of a local soldier who lived there but never came home.

In Halifax, home for 300 years to the proud Duke of Wellington’s Regiment, beacons will be lit, wreaths will be laid and the town crier will give his ‘Cry for Peace Around the World’ before the Minster bells will then ring out for peace. Peace.No one wants war.

No one wearing a poppy glorifies war. It is not red because it symbolises bloodshed, even though blood was shed, but because after the ravages of the First World War which ended 100 years ago at 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month, the poppy flowered on the battlefields where hundreds of thousands died.

Wearing the poppy is a simple act of remembrance, a mark of respect, to all who died fighting for our country in all wars. It is not a political statement.

There in no need to wear a white poppy for peace. Everyone wants peace.

As a journalist I have never been to a war zone but I have witnessed its aftermath.

Among the greatest privileges and with the greatest sadness I was at RAF Brize Norton when the bodies of the six soldiers from the Yorkshire regiment killed in Afghanistan were repatriated.

As the giant deafening Hercules aircraft came into land more than 2,000 people stood in silence.

As the six coffins paraded past the war memorial in Carterton the crowd broke out into spontaneous applause.

They were not applauding war. They were applauding bravery.

Among those mourning was Monica Kershaw from Bradford whose son Christopher was 19 when he offered to take the place of a fellow soldier on that fateful armoured patrol.

His officers said he would have been a leader of men.

This week Monica rode her huge motorbike through Cheshire and Wales as part of the Royal British Legion Riders with a picture of her son emblazoned on her leathers.

Liam Riley was from Sheffield. He trained with Prince Harry who described him as a legend when he wrote to his mother offering his condolences when Liam was killed aged 21 in Helmand Province trying to save a colleague.

Since then his family has raised more than a £100,000 for Help For Heroes.

3000 turned out to their last fun day on what would have been Liam’s 30th birthday.

They say it helps them to know people remember him too.

Just two of the many families from Yorkshire who need to know we will never forget.

Both boys were in the 3rd Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment, formerly the Dukes.

Next year a 16 foot statue depicting the 300 years regimental history will be unveiled in Halifax.

More than half the money has already been raised. It wil. So it’s good to know I can screw up an insignificant newspaper cutting of a silly girl whose name we have already forgotten.

For Monica, for Liam’s family and for all the millions before them, the message is loud and clear in every city, in every town, in every village.

We will remember them.