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Last Updated: Saturday, 12 November 2005, 07:20 GMT
Warning over war memorial neglect
Woman holding a poppy
The Queen is set to attend a Festival of Remembrance
Hundreds of war memorials across Britain are in a state of disrepair, according to a conservation charity.

The War Memorials Trust, which has restored 400 memorials since it was set up seven years ago, says their importance is often not appreciated.

It says some memorials fall into "disrepair" due to lack of maintenance while others are vandalised.

This comes ahead of the Queen paying tribute to the war dead in the annual Festival of Remembrance in London.

Silence

The charity's conservation officer Pedro Gaspar drew attention to the concern over the vandalism of permanent memorials.

"This comes out of a misunderstanding from the community about what war memorials mean and what they represent," he said.

He added that in some cases local authorities failed to ensure memorials were properly cared for and maintained.

One of the memorials that is in need of repair is a damaged former 30 ft column in Kirkby, Merseyside, which once had an ornate cross on top.

"On Halloween 11 years ago some youngsters thought it would be a good support for their swing," said the Reverend Tim Stratford of Kirkby Rectory.

"They put a rope over it, and the first child who went on it, the whole lot came down."

The War Memorials Trust has been instrumental in coming up with the 30,000 needed to repair the column.

Petal tribute

Meanwhile, hundreds of ex-service men and women are expected to descend on London's Royal Albert Hall for the annual service on Saturday night.

After the service, a two minute silence will be observed in honour of the war dead.

The event is expected to mix entertainment and military bands with solemn reflection on those who lost their lives.

Thousands of red poppy petals will fall from the dome at the end of the evening to honour all those who have died in combat over the years.

The Duchess of Cornwall will accompany the Prince of Wales to attend the event for the first time.

And Tony Blair is also expected to be among those paying their respects.

The Royal British Legion's festival comes ahead of Remembrance Sunday at the Cenotaph.




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