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From age six to 87: dozens keep all-night Battle of the Somme vigil in Cromer

PUBLISHED: 20:34 30 June 2016 | UPDATED: 20:34 30 June 2016

From left: Cubs Rafiq Uddin and Otis Cozens and cub leader Carl Hardingham keep watch during the 18-hour vigil. Picture: ALEX HURRELL

From left: Cubs Rafiq Uddin and Otis Cozens and cub leader Carl Hardingham keep watch during the 18-hour vigil. Picture: ALEX HURRELL

Archant

Heads deeply bowed, children as young as six and veterans in their 80s are taking it in turns this evening, through the night and until noon tomorrow to stand vigil around Cromer's war memorial.

From left: Dorothy and George Baker, and Leigh Jay keep the first watch of the 18-hour vigil in Cromer. Picture: ALEX HURRELLFrom left: Dorothy and George Baker, and Leigh Jay keep the first watch of the 18-hour vigil in Cromer. Picture: ALEX HURRELL

The candlelit ceremony is part of commemorations to mark the centenary of the first day of the Battle of the Somme, July 1 1916.

Beavers, cubs and scouts from 1st Cromer Sea Scouts were among the first to take their stand around the churchyard memorial.

They included 12-year-old Olivia May whose great-grandfather fought in the battle, which claimed 19,000 British lives on the first day.

The vigil began at 6pm when RAF National Serviceman George Baker, 87, and his wife Dorothy were joined around the candlelit memorial by Leigh Jay, a member of the Cromer RNLI Lifeboat crew. At 19, Leigh is a similar age to thousands who lost their lives in the battle which has gone down in infamy as the worst day in the history of the British Army.

From left: George Baker, 87, keeps the first watch of the 18-hour vigil in Cromer. Picture: ALEX HURRELLFrom left: George Baker, 87, keeps the first watch of the 18-hour vigil in Cromer. Picture: ALEX HURRELL

David Pritchard, the organiser, said nearly 30 people from a range of organisations would be taking part in the watch over the coming hours.

Cromer mayor Tim Adams and his deputy, John Frosdick, are expected to cover the 2am-4am period.

The vigil will end at noon tomorrow with a service and the laying of wreaths especially-designed by the Royal British Legion to mark the centenary.

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