Royal plants tree to honour war dead

His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent stands in thought after planting the oak sapling at Clitheroe Castle.
His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent stands in thought after planting the oak sapling at Clitheroe Castle.

Schoolchildren, soldiers, veterans and civic heads greeted the Duke of Kent when he visited Clitheroe to commemorate the fallen of the First World War.

The Duke, cousin of both the Queen and Prince Philip, was at Clitheroe Castle to plant the final oak tree in Ribble Valley’s centenary tribute.

Forty oak saplings had been planted throughout the Ribble Valley, bearing plaques in memory of the estimated 1,000 Ribble Valley men who lost their lives during the 1914-18 conflict. The Duke planted the 41st and final oak.

The Duke was welcomed by Ribble Valley Mayor and Mayoress Coun. Michael and Janette Ranson, and Ribble Valley Borough Council chief executive Marshal Scott.

Coun Ranson said: “It is our hope and expectation that this tree will be a reminder to this generation, and generations to come, of the sacrifice made by the people of the Ribble Valley to ensure our freedom.”

A former professional soldier and Royal Colonel of several regiments, the Duke was saluted by a guard of honour of soldiers from the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment and Ribble Valley Army Cadets.

After planting the sapling, the Duke unveiled a stone plaque donated by Waddington Fell Quarry featuring an inscription handcrafted by the quarry’s stone manager, Gary Devine, including a section from Laurence Binyon’s famous poem “Ode of Remembrance.”

Grindleton CE Primary School pupils Phoebe Smalley, Robert Sutcliffe and Rebecca Aldington then scattered poppy seeds around the sapling.

The Duke also visited the Castle Museum and looked at artwork with a First World War and tree theme, made for the royal visit by pupils at St Mary’s Primary School, Mellor.

The Duke also met members of the Royal British Legion.

Coun Michael Ranson said afterwards: “Before leaving, His Royal Highness told me he had thoroughly enjoyed his visit to Ribble Valley.”