Lest we forget...British Legion's memorial festival in Bristol makes history
FOR the first time in its history readings from the Koran and Sikh holy book, the Granth, were given during the British Legion's popular Poppy Appeal event at Colston Hall last night.
Dr Zaheer Shabir, of Building the Bridge, read from the Koran while Santock Singh read from the Granth. The Sikh anthem was also played as it was a Sikh holy day.
The much-loved annual show also featured performances from the Military Wives' Choir, Royal Mail Voice Choir and Royal Air Force Association Concert Band and celebrated the life of Sir Hugh Smith Marriott. He was a familiar face on the Bristol amateur dramatics scene and produced the festival for more than 40 years. He passed away on July 19.
Amongst the audience was George "Johnny" Johnson – the last surviving British member of the Dambusters.
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The show, which moved to Colston Hall from Central Hall in old Market in 1952, had been re-named this year.
It was known as the Festival of Remembrance but is now called the Poppy Appeal Commemorative Festival in an attempt by organisers to attract a younger audience. Ticket sales were up on last year.
Royal British Legion county chairman Roger Duddridge, 77, who produced the festival said: "It has always been an incredibly popular event but we changed the name in a bid to attract a younger audience.
"I took the step of asking a Sikh to give a reading from the Granth because there were a lot of Sikhs who fought on our side during the Second World War and it is about time that we recognised that fact."
As with recent shows the minute's silence to remember the fallen was accompanied by a shower of poppies onto the Colston Hall stage.