DIGNITARIES from across the globe will descend on Chester this weekend for the city’s first commemoration of the contribution of the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC).
The celebratory event is in The Mansion House in Abbey Square, and features an exhibition of ANZAC’s role in both World Wars as well as the culture of New Zealand and Australia.
There will also be a service of remembrance at Chester Cathedral on Sunday at 3.30pm for those who died.
The service will include the Vice Lord Lieutenant Major General Keith Skempton, the Duke of Westminster, the High Sheriff of Cheshire and Sheriff of Chester, Lieutenant General Sir Edmund Burton KBE MA, WO Dave Marendy representing the Australian High Commission, Major Euan Harris of the Welsh Fusiliers and Lt Com Dean Roberts from HMS Albion.
ANZAC was formed during the First World War to fight at Gallipoli and has served in every major engagement since.
More than 100 ANZAC servicemen were from Chester families who had emigrated to the southern hemisphere, while a further 230 came from Cheshire.
The Lady Mayoress of Chester, Raewyn Bailey, who was born in New Plymouth, New Zealand, is behind the initiative.
Mrs Bailey said: “My father fought in the Second World War, was captured on Crete and spent four years in a Prisoner of War camp in Poland. My parents had been married just six weeks when he left and were not to see each other again for six years.
“I wanted to commemorate the service of those thousands of men and women who left their homes and travelled halfway round the world to fight for their King and the mother country, Great Britain.
“I have this opportunity in my civic role this year and have been greatly supported by those who helped me from the generosity of their own hearts.”
Pupils of Lache Primary School and Tarvin Primary School have contributed exhibitions inspired by Aboriginal and Maori art respectively.
The Australian makers of ANZAC biscuits, traditionally baked by wives and girlfriends for troops to take overseas, are supporting the event by providing refreshments.
The Mansion House is open 10am-5pm on Saturday, 10am-3pm on Sunday. Admission is free. Donations are welcome.