Norwich remembers Edith Cavell

She is a Norfolk heroine who sacrificed herself to help Allied soldiers to safety during the first world war.

And at a special service at Norwich Cathedral on Saturday the bravery and selflessness of Edith Cavell was remembered.

Organised by the Norfolk and Norwich Combined Ex-Services Association, the poignant remembrance service was held around Edith's grave nearly 95 years to the day that she was executed by a German firing squad on October 12 1915.

When the first world war broke out Edith had been head matron of Belgium's first nurse training school and the school went on to become a safe house for Allied troops. Before being discovered by the Germans, Edith had helped some 200 soldiers escape from occupied Belgium to safety.

On Saturday morning, scores of people turned out to pay their respects to the heroic nurse who was born in Swardeston in 1865.

The Band of the Salvation Army from Mile Cross and standard bearers from military associations across the county marched to her graveside for the start of the service in which the Rev Paul Burr, vicar of Swardeston, addressed the congregation and wreaths were laid on Edith's grave.

Pascal Gregoire, first secretary of the Embassy of Belgium in London, travelled to Norwich especially for the service.

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He said: 'We make a point to participate in the service every year because we think it is important to show that we still remember Edith Cavell, that she gave her life in Belgium for British soldiers and she helped to build the first nursing school in Brussels. She is well remembered in Belgium.'

Stuart Holmes, a Deputy Lord Lieutenant for Norfolk, said it was a very moving ceremony.

He said: 'It is so important that we remember Edith Cavell for her display of courage in the face of adversity and her sense of duty even knowing what the consequences could be.'

Derek James, Sheriff of Norwich, who attended the memorial with his wife Bridgette, added: 'Edith Cavell's death seems more poignant than ever with recent events, and the service was also an opportunity to remember men and women in the armed forces today.'

Bill McLintock, from the Ex-Services Association and who organised the event, said he was very pleased with the amount of people who came to the service.

'For me this service is so important because Edith Cavell did something for Britain to be proud of by looking after the servicemen and trying to help them in any way she could,' he said.

Major Charles Colbeck, from the Swanton Morley-based Light Dragoons, and Colin Kemp, chairman of the Norfolk branch of the Royal British Legion, were among the other people to attend the service.