Thousands gathered in Leek to pay their respects on Remembrance Sunday

ONE of the biggest crowds in recent years gathered in Leek on Remembrance Sunday to pay homage to the town and surrounding district’s war dead.

It is estimated in excess of 2,000 people filled the town centre to pay their respects at a service at the Nicholson War Memorial to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.

Coun Sybil Ralphs MBE, Leader of Staffordshire Moorlands District Council, said: “It was overwhelming and I was very touched to see such a large crowd of people.

“It was great to see so many young people and they were all so respectful.

“During the two minute silence you could hear a pin drop,” she added

.Among the other community leaders in attendance was Leek town mayor Roy Tomkinson, pictured, who served in the Royal Navy as a petty officer.

They were joined by members of the Royal British Legion and representatives from the Armed Forces and the emergency services.

The service was conducted by the Rev Nigel Irons, Rector of Leek and Meerbrook, and vicar of St Edward’s and St John’s Churches.

The Nicholson War Memorial was built to commemorate the death of Lieutenant Basil Lee Nicholson in the First World War. He was killed in action at Ypres, Belgium, in 1915, at the age of 24.

The 90ft high memorial – one of the biggest in the country – was presented to the town by Lieut Nicholson’s parents, Sir Arthur and Lady Marianne Nicholson, and unveiled in 1925, which was four years before Sir Arthur’s death.