‘Very special occasion’ sees brave Haywards Heath resident honoured

Dignitaries with the piper on the day at the Town Hall in Haywards Heath. Picture by David Ash Peake
Dignitaries with the piper on the day at the Town Hall in Haywards Heath. Picture by David Ash Peake

A ‘very special occasion’ on Sunday saw the Haywards Heath community turn out in great numbers.

A commemorative service was held at the war memorial on Muster Green to honour resident Sergeant Arthur Knight for his bravery during the First World War.

Town mayor councillor James Knight receives a wall hanging depicting Sgt Knight form Chief Warrant Officer Kent Griffiths, CD and Lieutenant Colonel (retired) Lee Villiger, CD

Town mayor councillor James Knight receives a wall hanging depicting Sgt Knight form Chief Warrant Officer Kent Griffiths, CD and Lieutenant Colonel (retired) Lee Villiger, CD

It was organised and hosted by Haywards Heath Town Council and Mid Sussex District Council.

Reverend Ray Smith from St Wilfrid’s Church conducted the service with assistance from reverend Charles Sargent, chaplain to Haywards Heath Royal British Legion.

The service also included two children from St Wilfrid’s School laying a wreath to honour Sgt Knight, who was a former pupil of the school.

A spokesman for the town council said: “The Haywards Heath community turned out in great numbers on Sunday to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the awarding of the Victoria Cross to Sgt Arthur George Knight who was born in Haywards Heath.

Chief Warrant Officer Kent Griffiths, CD and Lieutenant Colonel (retired) Lee Villiger, CD laying a wreath. Picture by David Ash Peake

Chief Warrant Officer Kent Griffiths, CD and Lieutenant Colonel (retired) Lee Villiger, CD laying a wreath. Picture by David Ash Peake

“To honour Sgt Knight, as part of a nationwide Government led initiative to commemorate all Victoria Cross winners, a special stone was unveiled to honour his service and actions.

“Dignitaries including Deputy Lieutenants, Andrew Stephenson John and Sir Richard Kleinwort Bt, High Sheriff Caroline Nicholls and MP Sir Nicholas Soames were led to Muster Green by a piper where they were met by the The Band of the Royal Yeomanry, who played beautifully, and even turned their hand to the Canadian National Anthem to recognise Sgt Knight’s service with the Canadian forces.”

Sgt Knight emigrated to Canada in 1911, and as a result of his injuries serving for the tenth Infantry Battalion (Alberta Regiment), he died in service the day after his actions that gained him the Victoria Cross.

After the ceremony a reception was held at the Town Hall.

The dignitaries attending the service. Picture by David Ash Peake

The dignitaries attending the service. Picture by David Ash Peake

Chief Warrant Officer Kent Griffiths, CD and Lieutenant Colonel (retired) Lee Villiger, CD made a presentation of wall hanging to the town mayor Mr Knight, which is to go on display.

Haywards Heath In Bloom chairman councillor Sandy Ellis also presented a special celebration cake to the Canadian visitors, on behalf of the In Bloom Committee, made by Jenny Figg.

Mr Knight said: “A very special occasion was made all the more memorable by the attendance of our Canadian representatives from the High Commission and Calgary Highlanders.”

Councillor Bruce Forbes. chairman for the district council, added: “I am often struck by the number of present day heroes we have in our district, so it was an honour and a privilege to join the Haywards Heath community’s commemorative stone unveiling on the centenary of the nation’s highest accolade being awarded to Sgt Arthur Knight VC.

“This reminds us all of the very considerable and ultimate sacrifice(s) made by local service personnel in the past, so that we may have the freedom and democracy we take for granted today.”

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