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War memorial rededicated ahead of Remembrance Sunday

First published on: 1st November 2023

The rededication of a Second World War Memorial to the former employees of a Huddersfield chemical manufacturer, has been carried out by Revd Canon Rachel Firth, Vicar of Huddersfield ahead of Remembrance Sunday.

The brass plaque lists those who gave their lives and the family of one of the fallen heroes, one of whom still works for the same company, were central to proceedings.

More than seventy years after his death, the great granddaughter of Huddersfield born, Harold Toulcher, were part of the multi-faith congregation at the Syngenta Site in the town, to honour the memory of the 24 employees of the company (known then as Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI).

Revd Rachel blessed the memorial in the presence of The Mayor of Huddersfield, Cllr Cahal Burke and she said it was a privilege to refresh the original dedication made by her predecessor Canon Frank Woods in 1949.

Members of the local branch of the Royal British Legion attended with members of the Kirklees Interfaith Network, as well as known families of the fallen and Syngenta employees.

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 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.”

Pete Waddington, Syngenta Huddersfield site manager, said: “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.”

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