Barnsley Council has launched Yorkshire’s very first HM Armed Forces Commemorative Walkway. The dedicated space, which has been provided in partnership with Barnsley College, has been created for families and friends to remember those who have and are currently serving.
The commemorative piece is located on Westgate, Barnsley by the Barnsley Sixth Form College gardens and was launched with an opening ceremony led by the Mayor of Barnsley. Family members of the first stones laid along with representatives from serving organisations attended the event to unveil the walkway.
Built with honed granite, the walkway is initially made up of 12 flagstones featuring the names, service and regiments of Barnsley’s servicemen and women. The first stone is dedicated to Private Matthew Thornton from the fourth battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment, who sadly lost his life in Afghanistan on Wednesday 9 November 2011. Described as a gifted, hardworking and determined soldier, Matthew’s family attended the ceremony to pay tribute.
Stones for the walkway can be purchased for £250 by visiting the Barnsley Council website. Applicants will be asked to provide proof of service.
Wendy Lowder, Executive Director of Communities, said: “We’re delighted to open our very own commemorative walkway as a dedication to those who have and continue to serve our country. It’s a wonderful way to honour the service and sacrifice for our freedom that we too often take for granted.
“We’re proud to raise the curtain on the very first walkway in Yorkshire. We hope that it can be a true tribute to our armed forces and their families, and hope that the community will see the impact of preserving our history.”
Yiannis Koursis, Principal and Chief Executive at Barnsley College, said: “The walkway is a fitting way to commemorate the sacrifices of both current and past servicemen and women from our town. We are pleased to have worked alongside Barnsley Council to provide an area which their families and friends can visit to reflect and think of them.”
Michael Thornton, Private Matthew Thornton’s father, said: “Matthew was a polite young man who took time out to help the other soldiers around him if they were struggling. He loved the army and comradery and was honoured to be corner guard at the cenotaph in Barnsley in 2010.
“The feedback from his Afghanistan camp was that he conducted himself more than a territorial soldier and he went on to receive the Rushworth Trophy in 2010. His mother and I are extremely proud of his achievements, and we’re pleased that we’ll be able to honour his name on Yorkshire’s first commemorative walkway.”
Armed forces communities and their families can find further support by visiting barnsley.gov.uk/armed-forces/.