Some ordinary people become involved in extraordinary situations. The way they react can become the stuff of legends. They become heroes.
One such man was Charles Edwin Stone who is being celebrated and commemorated by the people of Belper on the centennial anniversary of him being awarded the Victoria Cross.
On March 21 1918 at Caponne Farm, France, after working at his gun for six hours under heavy gas and shell fire, Gunner Stone was sent back to the rear with an order.
He delivered it and then, under a heavy barrage, returned with a rifle to assist in holding up the enemy on a sunken road.
First lying in the open under very heavy machine-gun fire and then on the right flank of the two rear guns he held the enemy at bay. Later he was one of the party which captured a machine-gun and four prisoners.
The hero, who survived the war, returned to Derbyshire to live and died in 1952.
On March 21 2018 the people of Belper will join members of the Stone family at events to commemorate the centenary of his actions.
A new memorial will be unveiled in the Memorial Gardens and this will be followed by Remembering Charlie – an evening of music, drama and poetry depicting a life less ordinary. New writing and specially written music will highlight the story.
The event at St Peter’s Church, in Belper, at 7.30pm is free and will feature Belper Musical Theatre, musicians James Oldrini and Mat Williams, singer-songwriter Sue MacFarlane, Rough Truffles community choir and many more.
The previous weekend, at All Saint’s Church, Youlgreave, Derbyshire is hosting the artwork Assembly: Memorial Chairs, which is nearing the end of a 10,000 mile, five-year journey around 16 significant community sites in Britan.
On display on March 17 and 18, from 9am-5pm, this installation from the In Flanders Field Museum, Ypres, has at its centre the book – Assembly. The memorial book contains over 174,000 names of those from the United Kingdom and Ireland who lost their lives in The Great War.
Assembly also includes five empty chairs from St Audomarus Church, Passchendaele. Each represents a year of the Great War.
The work is the concept of Derbyshire artist Val Carman, who was the first artist- in-residence at the In Flanders Fields Museum in 1999, and also worked in a commemorative residency in Passchendaele.
Youlgreave has been chosen as one of the venues because it has a unique link with Ypres in the church’s memorial stained glass window that contain glass collected during the bombardments of 1914 and 1915 Captain Charles Waterhouse 1st Life Guards, a local officer. These fragments were brought back to England – with permission of the authorities – and used in the creation of the memorial window to his brother Captain Rennie Waterhouse who was killed in action in 1915.
The window was the inspiration for a special centenary memorial art piece which is now being created by Youlgreave and will be featured in a future edition of artsbeat.