Every ten years since 1988 a memorial service has been held in St. John’s Church, Hutton Roof, on the nearest Sunday to the 18th October, which is the date on which our brave chaplain, the Rev’d T.B. Hardy, died in 1918, less than three weeks before the Armistice. This year was the 90th Anniversary of his death.
82 people attended the service on Sunday 19th October, 25 of whom were local and the remainder were pilgrims, some of whom had travelled many miles to honour the memory of this brave man. These pilgrims included a band of 10 Combined Cadet Force Army recruits from a Newcastle school who regularly climb on Hutton Roof Crag. (The girls and boys were Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers – REMEs - and it was lovely to see them there); Sue Knox and her husband from the Exeter Tourist Board and Theodore Hardy’s birthplace; Stuart Bufton who lives in Suffolk, the Deputy Chairman of the Western Front Association and other representatives of the WFA nearer to hand and from representatives of the Lancaster Military Heritage Group including their Chair, Cllr. Sheila Denwood.
We were also pleased to welcome Nick and Jane Ward late of Bentham Grammar School who generously lent us pictures and documents for a display in the village hall from the school at the time when Hardy was its headmaster. Nick Ward was himself the headmaster of Bentham Grammar School from 1991-95.
David Raw, the author of the biography of T.B. Hardy, It’s Only Me, read out a letter from Studdert Kennedy (aka Woodbine Willie) Hardy’s colleague and mentor - which he wrote to Mary Kennedy on hearing of Hardy’s death and he followed this with the citation for the award of Hardy’s V.C.
Canon Paul Hardy, T.B. Hardy’s great nephew and grandson of Mary Hardy, read the passage from John 15. “This is my commandment: love one another as I loved you."
This was followed immediately by a most moving address from the Assistant Chaplain General, the Rev’d Peter Eagles CF who talked with passion about how much the men must have loved Hardy who was both courageous and compassionate and who knew uniquely how to listen to others. He also referred to Jimmy Atkinson, who died recently, who was the last man in the village to be christened by Hardy, when he was home on leave in Hutton Roof in March 1918.
Other readings at the service were given by locals Anne Huntington and David Read. The service was led by the Rev’d Richard Snow and the Venerable George Howe, Archdeacon of Westmorland and Furness led the prayers. The Rt. Rev’d Gordon Bates led the Act of Remembrance and Commitment which was followed by the Last Post on the horn following the laying of the wreaths.
Refreshments were served in the village hall and all present felt the service had been most moving. It was also observed by one village wit that the number of eminent clerics taking part in the service had left the congregation feeling “well revved-up”.
We all look forward to the centenary in October 2018.