A COMMUNITY gathered together today (Thursday, July 10) to commemorate the First World War and the restoration of a village memorial.

Residents of Bishop Middleham, near Sedgefield in County Durham, turned out en masse to see the Bishop of Jarrow, the Right Reverend Mark Bryant, re-dedicate the cenotaph at St Michael’s Church.

Earlier this year, thanks to the efforts of Bishop Middleham Parish Council and the church, the memorial underwent vital restoration work to coincide with the centenary of the Great War.

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Concerns had been raised about the memorial’s proximity to the edge of the churchyard and during the renovation the structure was dismantled and re-erected further back on concrete foundations.

The names of the 29 villagers who died in the First and Second World Wars were also re-engraved on the memorial to ensure future generations remember the sacrifice they made.

About £8,000 in funding was secured from the War Memorial Trust, the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Four Together Area Action Partnership, to carry out the work.

Standing before the restored war memorial this afternoon (Thursday), the Bishop of Jarrow said: “We give thanks for the restoration of this memorial and, as we re-dedicate it, we pray that you will continue to bless it as a sign of remembrance and gratitude for those from this village who gave the lives in the world wars.”

His prayer was followed by an Act of Remembrance, in which the names of the fallen were read out.

Many ex-servicemen and women, including members of Sedgefield Village Veterans, attended the ceremony, which was brought to a close by the Last Post and Reveille and the laying of wreaths.

Councillor Julie Hall, chairwoman of Bishop Middleham Parish Council, said: “So many people have supported this project and with such enthusiasm. It is wonderful to have such a large turnout here today, including family members of those who are named on the memorial.”

Prior to the re-dedication, the Reverend Michael Gobbett led a poignant church service to commemorate the First World War.

As well as hymns and prayers, children from Bishop Middleham Primary School told the congregation about a school project relating to the centenary of the conflict.

The youngsters also performed a spirited rendition of It’s a Long Way to Tipperary.

A book providing an insight into life in Bishop Middleham during the war has also been produced and is available at the village shop, priced £10.