Community still remembers bravery of Royston VC soldier a century later

IT is more than a century since pitman turned soldier Albert Shepherd put himself in grave danger to overcome enemy machine gunners who threatened his comrades, but his extraordinary bravery is still keenly remembered in the Barnsley village of Royston where he lived.

His actions on November 20, 1917 won the Kings Royal Rifle Corps soldier a Victoria Cross – the highest award for valour – and despite putting himself in peril that day he also survived being wounded and gassed to return to Royston where he lived until his death in 1966.

A lych gate was erected in his honour at St John the Baptist Church, funded by the community and his regiment, but after decades it had deteriorated to the point where it had to be removed.

However, the village’s ward alliance – a body made up of councillors and others involved in the community, with a budget to spend – have financed a replacement and that was officially opened with a special service, attended by his family, who still live in the area, military representatives, councillors, school children and others.

The Bishop of Wakefield, Bishop Tony Robinson, attended to bless the new gate, which was created by a community workshop, and children from a village primary school also sang at the service, with the Mayor of Barnsley, Coun Pauline Markham, officially unveiling the gates, which feature a carved Victoria Cross.

The gate was designed by John Nyland and constructed by volunteers.