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Ellon commemorates St Valery

By Kirsty Brown

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The skirl of pipes rang out over Ellon as the local community joined the commemorations of the 80th anniversary of St Valery.

The largely forgotten Second World War battle led to 10,000 mainly Scottish soldiers from the 51st Highland Division being captured at St Valéry-en-Caux, after they had continued the fight on the continent in support of the French after the Dunkirk evacuations had been completed.

Hundreds of pipers across the world piped Heroes Of St Valery - a piece composed by one of the captured soldiers Donald MacLean - at 10am today (Friday) to commemorate the poignant occasion - thought to be the highest number of pipers to ever play simultaneously.

Ellon War Memorial was attended by Mike Annand and Norman Fraser. Picture: Phil Harman
Ellon War Memorial was attended by Mike Annand and Norman Fraser. Picture: Phil Harman

In Ellon, piper Mike Annand of Ellon RBL Pipe Band played the piece at Ellon War Memorial, accompanied by Ellon Legion's Norman Fraser.

Across the north-east a number of pipers played Heroes Of St Valery at memorials, on doorsteps, in gardens and on their street.

The day's events were developed by three leading Scottish Armed Forces charities: Poppyscotland, Legion Scotland and RCET: Scotland’s Armed Forces Children’s Charity.

As well as pipers across the world performing at 10am, there was also a virtual classroom lesson for school children broadcast at 11am, an online screening of the critically acclaimed play The Beaches of St Valéry at 3pm, an online panel discussion with notable historians at 7pm and then there will be a tribute concert at 9pm featuring performances from Celtic-rock legends Runrig, the Red Hot Chilli Pipers and many others who have recorded tracks especially for the St Valéry commemorations.

A twilight tribute will close out the day at 10pm, and all of the broadcasts can be viewed live from the charities’ Facebook pages, and also from Poppyscotland’s YouTube channel.

Lieutenant General Sir Alistair Irwin KCB CBE, who is the President of Royal British Legion Scotland and Poppyscotland and a Vice-President of RCET: Scotland’s Armed Forces Children’s Charity, said: “St Valéry represents a hugely significant moment in our nation’s history, and it is quite right that the bravery and fortitude of the great 51st Highland Division should be marked in this moving way."

For more information you can visit: www.poppyscotland.org.uk/st-valery, or alternatively you can check out: www.facebook.com/Poppyscotland, www.facebook.com/LegionScotland, www.facebook.com/RCETScot or www.youtube.com/Poppyscotland.

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