A re-dedication ceremony for a Second World War Memorial to the former employees of a Huddersfield chemical manufacturer, who gave their lives to serve their country will take place on Friday morning (27th October) in Huddersfield, with the family of one of the fallen heroes, one of whom still works for the same company, central to proceedings*.
More than seventy years after his death, the great granddaughter of Huddersfield born, Harold Toulcher, will be part of a multi-faith congregation at the Syngenta Site in the town, to honour the memory of the 24 employees of the company (known as Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) Ltd. back then), who gave their lives in the cause of freedom during World War Two.
Huddersfield Vicar, Revd Canon Rachel Firth will bless the new Memorial in the presence of The Mayor of Huddersfield, Cllr Cahal Burke, who will read a poem “For the Fallen”, by Laurence Binyon.
Members of the local branch of the Royal British Legion, Bill Piggot (vice chair), Jackie Morris (standard bearer) will also be in attendance, and members of the Kirklees Interfaith Network have been invited, as well as known families of the fallen and Syngenta employees.
Syngenta’s Leeds Road premises has been home to the memorial since it was first dedicated in 1949. The original memorial was hand carved in stone with 22 names but quickly weathered and was covered with a plaque shortly afterwards, listing 24 named employees who gave their lives.
The intervening decades took their toll, and despite regular maintenance and repairs, full refurbishment this year was the only right thing to do – and the improvement is very striking.
Amongst the comrades who are honoured on the Memorial, Harold Toulcher was born in Huddersfield in 1912 and worked for the company until he was called up as a gunner to the 38th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery. He was married with two children when he was killed, fighting for King and Country, in Benghazi, Libya, in 1942.
Nikita Seabright, Harold’s great granddaughter, is apprenticeships manager at Syngenta and has proudly visited the memorial to Harold and the 23 other former company employees, often over the years, with her family. The family will be the ones to unveil the memorial plaque during the ceremony.
Nikita said: “It is a real honour to have been asked to unveil the refurbished memorial to my Great Granddad and his fallen colleagues at its rededication. Everyone who knew him said he was a lovely man, and my family and I have visited the memorial on Remembrance Day for the two-minute silence organised the company, many times over the years – it means a great deal to us.
As a Syngenta employee it is especially humbling and a proud moment to be a part of the rededication that remembers my Great Grandad and his colleagues.”
Pete Waddington, Syngenta Huddersfield site manager, said: “Distressing events continue to take place across the world, and it is sobering to think that in some countries today, civilians are being mobilised for military duty. We shall never forget the sacrifice that Harold Toulcher and these 23 other fallen citizens of our Huddersfield Site, gave for our freedom during World War Two. The refurbishment and blessing of the memorial plaque was the right thing to do and I am grateful to our Civic guests for their support.”
The Mayor of Kirklees, Councillor Cahal Burke, added: “It is an honour to attend the blessing of the memorial plaque as it is a poignant tribute to those who gave their lives. As Remembrance Day draws closer, it is important we remember the sacrifices made by those in wars and conflicts for the freedoms we have today.
“The memorial is a fitting reminder that the World Wars had a lasting impact in places across the globe, the Commonwealth, and here in our borough. We should honour those brave people and be proud that we have people in Kirklees willing to put their lives before others.”