Across Borough Care’s 11 local homes staff had spent the last six months researching how many local men had died in some foreign field during World War One.
To mark the start of the Great War on August 4 , Stockport’s largest provider of care for older people let go 500 balloons each tagged with a name taken from the war memorials across the Borough.
Care staff had written a short essay on the war records of each of those names, sharing with residents the untold stories they had discovered about our local heroes.
“Altogether Stockport sacrificed 2,200 lives during World War so it was difficult to choose,” said Rosaleen Charles, Borough Care’s Home Manager at Bryn Haven in Brinnington, “but our staff did a lot of work at the local memorials, in local libraries, on the Internet and in the homes of relatives finding out about these men.”
Rosaleen added that the exercise had been undertaken with almost military precision at all Borough Care’s 11 care homes and most of the care group’s 550 staff had taken part in the project.
She said: “We wish we could have researched all 2,200 men but in the end we felt to find out about 500 men was a fitting tribute so we chose those we thought had a connection to past and current residents and staff. It has been a labour of both love and respect for that lost generation of souls.”
One such man was Ernest Hurst, from Vaughan Road, Heaton Norris, who signed up at the age of 18, served three years, winning the military cross for his bravery, only to fall at Passchendaele in 1917. His great niece Jane Porter, whose daughter works for Borough Care, explained what the day meant to her.
“When my father, who was Ernest Hurst’s nephew, and I visited his grave at Tincourt Cemetery in France we were the first members of our family ever to make the trip. The government had given some money for relatives to go to gravesides in France, but only enough for one person and his mother, my great, great aunt simply could not face to go on her own. It was a moment I will always remember and on behalf of all local families who had family members lost in World War One I’d like to thank Borough Care for making this tribute.”
Borough Care Chief Executive Kathryn Farmer said: “Though we have past the stage now when those who were physically involved in the war effort can tell us of their experiences, there are many in the older generation, indeed among our residents, who remember family members who fought, or we were involved in the First World War. We feel it is important for them to remember and to pass on those memories and tales about those who were born into dramatically different times.”
Borough Care is planning to time line the events of the First World War with tributes to mark key events, most significantly for Stockport the 100th anniversary of the siege of St. Julien, a small village near Ypres, which witnessed the Cheshire Regiment’s greatest ever loss of life in a single day, July 31 1917, which sent a shudder of grief across the town as news came back of a slaughter of local lives.