Leagrave snub for unco-operative vicar

[The Luton News: Thursday, September 4th, 1919]

Leagave celebrations advertLeagrave is going to have a big day on September 20th, when the returning soldiers are to be welcomed. A number of sub-committees have been hard at work, and on Monday evening they all met as a general committee at Oak Road School to report progress. Mr S. Wingrave presided, and there was a large attendance. Nearly £200 has already been subscribed, the amount aimed at being £250.

The Clerk, Mr Mitchell, reported that he had interviewed the Rev S. H. Collins, Vicar of Biscot, as requested by the committee, and very courteously brought before him the case with regard to the proposed memorial service to soldiers fallen in the war. He told the Vicar it was the unanimous wish of the committee that a non-sectarian memorial service should be held in the open air. The Vicar said he would attend the meeting if possible and put his case before them. He, however, had not turned up.

Mr Hull proposed that the matter be left until later, as the Vicar might come in. The Chairman agreed, but remarked that the Vicar was not treating them with very great respect – (hear, hear).

Later in the meeting, the Rev Collins having not appeared, Mr Hull said the Vicar had that day told him he was willing to take part in the service only if it was held in the church and he himself officiated.

The Chairman said the Vicar's wishes were quite contrary to those of the ex-servicemen, who desired an open-air service of a united and non-sectarian character.

Mr F. Hoar, speaking for the men, said that was so; it was no good beating about the bush. The Vicar had treated them badly, and they should now proceed to get an Army Chaplain to co-operate with the other denominations represented and ignore the Vicar altogether.

The committee agreed to make other arrangements and to approach, if possible, an Army Chaplain to conduct the service in co-operation with representatives of all denominations.

The Clerk was instructed to write to the directors of Commercial Cars Ltd, asking them to grant the use of the Blackwell Estate field, Marsh Road, for the purpose of the open-air service on Sunday, September 21st, at three o'clock.

The Refreshment Committee had decided to give a luncheon to the ex-servicemen in the mess room on the Omnia Works, which had been lent by Mr Blondeau for September 20. The day was also to include a procession with decorated vehicles, a sports programme and an al fresco concert in the evening.

In its September 18th edition, the Luton News reported that the services of Major the Rev A. Stanley-Bishop, A.P.C., R.A.F, had been secured to conduct the memorial service on September 21st. He was described as one of the best known Chaplains in the British Army. Other clergy and ministers would be assisting.