West Ham Archdeacon Elwin Cockett puts a special twist on Remembrance

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Like many children, I used to love the old rhyme, “Remember, remember, the fifth of November, gunpowder, treason and plot!”

Of course, this time of year was about remembering long before Halloween became the commercial event that it is now.

The feast of All Hallows, celebrating the saints, was followed immediately by the feast of All Souls, celebrating the lives of ordinary men and women.

In the 17th century, Gunpowder Plot night was added as a convenient continuation of the All Souls’ events. And a more sombre form of marking the past, Remembrance Day, was added after the First World War. Its significance has been strengthened in recent years by the aftermath of conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and the centenary of the First World War.

Without taking anything away from Remembrance Day, I would like to suggest an additional way of marking this season: Let’s celebrate people who have made our lives better and who are still alive.


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Do you remember your favourite teacher from your schools days? Or that special uncle or aunt who was really kind to you? Maybe you have really happy memories of friends or neighbours?

Well, why not do something to let them know? You might just find that they really appreciate being told how they are remembered, particularly if they’re going through a rough time.

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I’d like to kick off by suggesting someone who Recorder readers might celebrate this year. He is the man responsible for some of the most iconic photos taken at Upton Park over the past 30 or 40 years, and the only photographer whose name I’ve heard chanted in adulation by the crowd at a football match. He is, of course, the one-and-only Steve Bacon. If you can picture Billy Bonds or Trevor Brooking or Joe Cole in your mind’s eye, the chances are that it’s Steve’s work that you’re remembering.

I hope Steve won’t mind me saying that he has not been in great health recently. So, Steve, if you’re reading this, we want you to know that we’re thinking of you with a lot of affection and wishing you all the best. More from Elwin

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