One of the earliest war memorials erected to the fallen in the Great War has been saved for posterity after a remarkable campaign by Daniel Kington.
The seven foot high marble crucifix in Haywards Heath’s Western Road Cemetery is believed to be one of the first memorials to be erected in the UK after the guns fell silent in 1918.
But over the years, weeds forced their way through cracks in the plinth and the poignant reminder of so much heartache and sacrifice was in danger of collapsing.
Daniel, who chairs the Haywards Heath Branch of the Royal British Legion, enlisted the support of former soldier and trustee of the War Graves Commission, Nicholas Soames, and campaigned through the Middy for public funding to restore the memorial, which is in the Roman Catholic part of the cemetery and was erected before the town’s main memorial on Muster Green.
Daniel’s effort were successful and thanks to support from the district and town councils and a generous financial gift from an anonymous benefactor the memorial has been restored by contractors Burslem.
Daniel attended a re-dedication service on Friday, accompanied by council dignitaries, Nicholas Soames and members of the Royal British Legion.
Father Jakabus from St Paul’s Roman Catholic Church in Haywards Heath conducted the service and Daniel laid a wreath at the foot of the memorial.
Daniel has discovered that the plot for the crucifix was purchased in 1919 by a person called Stanton and he believes the memorial was paid for by public subscription.
Speaking after the service, Daniel said: “I am very proud of the community for coming together to make this project such a success. This is one of the earliest memorials and has national significance. Saving it for the nation was very much a team effort.”