Yorkshire Day celebrations attracted thousands to the town and while the crowds and extra publicity were welcomed by residents, many could not help but feel “outraged” at the use, or rather misuse, of the war memorial.
The war monument at Dock End, a focal point for Armed Forces Day and Remembrance Sunday, was stripped of its poppies and memorabilia to allow an entertainment marquee to be set up. It was there that civic dignitaries enjoyed their lunch.
Its sandstone double plinth was also “disrespected” as organisers of the event used it as a base for stage equipment.
The act was met with anger and frustration by members of the public, many of whom said they were “outraged” at the “lack of tact and forethought” of those who planned the event.
Resident James White said: “As a Yorkshire man, Whitby born and bred I love the idea of Yorkshire Day but I am absolutely outraged at the disgusting, unforgivable way that those who are elected to represent us show disregard to the feelings of military veterans, families of lost loved ones in past military conflicts and memories of the brave men and women who gave their all in the last two World Wars.”
Colin Brittain added: “It beggars belief that anyone would consider defiling what the memorial stands for in this way. Whomever is responsible for allowing this travesty ought to be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.”
The general feeling, said Fiona Clewlow, is that wreaths and poppies should not have been removed and that full access to the memorial should have been maintained.
“It should have been included in the public celebrations – perhaps with its own minor ceremony, rather than used as a work bench, and sheeted and lit as part of a private do.”
Celebrations for Yorkshire Day were organised by Whitby Town Council, who spent six months planning the details of the event.
A petition to show them the anger and upset caused by the misuse of the memorial has been signed by scores of residents who are also demanding for a public apology to be issued.
In a statement issued by Whitby Town Council the local authority thanked the Yorkshire Society for the opportunity to host Yorkshire Day.
It went on to thank everyone who turned out during the day, the event’s sponsors and the Town Council staff who worked “hard” to ensure the event was a “success”.
Lastly it added: “We may not have got everything right, and if anyone was offended by the placing of the War Memorial at the heart of our event, we regret that is something we did not anticipate.”