Villagers unite to stage moving memorial to WWI fallen

Mary Arden-Davis and Philip Greenway.

A specially commissioned play to commemorate the centenary of the World War One Armistice is to be performed by members of the community of Areley Kings, near Stourport, next week.

The play, entitled Lest We Forget, has been written by villager Mary Arden-Davis and will be performed at St Bartholomew’s Church on November 8 and 9 at 7.30pm.  

Based largely on records of the time, including parish magazines edited by the Rector, Canon Daniel Vawdrey, the play recounts how the tiny community raised enough money to build a memorial to 14 young men from the village killed in the conflict. 

Cast member Philip Greenway, who plays the part of the architect who designed the original war memorial in the play, has made a half size detailed replica, which will be constructed in the church during the first half of the play. The second half tells the story of the returning soldiers.

Thirty people from the village are involved in the performance, the youngest cast member is nine and the oldest 90. The present Rector, Reverend Mark Turner, is playing the part of Canon Vawdrey.

Mrs Arden-Davis, who has many years of acting experience and played pub barmaid Pru in long-running radio drama series The Archers, said: “I was delighted to be awarded a number of “There but not There” silhouettes by the Armed Forces Community Fund Trust to support the event. These will be placed in the church pews, intermingled with the audience, with each silhouette representing one of the young men from the village who died.

“While I was doing my research, I realised that when the young men returned home there was nothing to help and support them other than their families. In their memory, all profits from our performances will be donated to the Battle Back Centre at Lilleshall to support present day service personnel recovering from mental and physical injuries sustained during combat.” 

Tickets, priced at £10 for adults and £5 for children, will include a souvenir programme and interval refreshments.  They are available from cast members on either 01684 214037 or 01299 825791.

The press release has appeared in the Kidderminster Shuttle and Express & Star.