This is a really special week and it is not because it was Bonfire Night on Monday or because Jacksons new practice management system has gone live but because at 11am on Sunday it is 100 years since the guns fell silent at the end of World War One. This is therefore a time for reflection and remembrance and an opportunity to acknowledge a massive debt of gratitude to those who gave their lives for us.
As we get closer to this date, poppies are appearing in ceramic, paper, light and knitted form in some amazing sculptures and other tributes.
At Jacksons we were privileged to be invited by Stockton Council recently to view The Danger Tree exhibition which through its beautiful pictures and detailed personal stories brought home to us the horrors of the war and the sacrifice made. Viewing this exhibition was tremendously moving and thought provoking. I could not help wondering if my son could have coped with the horrors and whether I could have coped with him volunteering or being sent away to fight in muddy trenches with no communication unless the worst happened. I am not sure either of us could.
At Jacksons we know that several members of our staff fought in this war and Major Basil Jackson DSO the son of our founder died of wounds suffered in 1915. It is almost impossible to imagine isn’t it a number of your staff and partners being sent to war and others being seconded to war efforts.
When I see the poppies and think about World War One I remember in particular a gentleman called Mr Yates. He and his wife were close neighbours of my Mum and Dad when they were first married and they adopted our family so we visited them even when we had moved away as a family. While Mrs Yates and their daughters were always chatty and jolly Mr Yates sat in his armchair in the corner of the front room and only joined any conversation when my Dad encouraged him by mentioning their mutual love of Crystal Palace football club.
Throughout my childhood I thought of Mr Yates as a really old man with a gammy leg who was just really quiet but as I grew older I learnt that he had been gassed in the war and had never really recovered and he was much younger than his demeanour portrayed. How was it for him to endure such horrors and how was it for his family to see him return a shadow of his former self? Did they think they were the lucky ones because he did come back?
So this weekend in the minutes silence and as the bugles play at 11am on Sunday and the beacons are lit Sunday night we will think in particular of Basil Jackson and all of the other members of the Jackson family who went away to fight along with our own family members and the soldiers whose story was told at The Danger Tree exhibition, and we will also remember the families of such soldiers who lost loved ones or whose lives were changed for ever by what happened to their loved ones.
So in the words of Robert Binyon’s poem “At the going down of the sun and in the morning . We will remember them.”