Belfast Telegraph

Fans remember fallen at special service in Switzerland

By Adrian Rutherford

Northern Ireland fans fell silent in Basel yesterday as they paused to remember the fallen.

Supporters staged a Remembrance Sunday service in the Swiss city, hours before the team's World Cup play-off tie.

A crowd of several hundred stood in the pouring rain for the poignant event at Christoph Merian-Park.

It was organised by Paul Harding, a Northern Ireland fan who served in Afghanistan.

He told the Belfast Telegraph: "I realised there would be 2,000 fans coming here - maybe more, and most would otherwise have been in their own village, town or city at their own Remembrance Sunday service.

"So I thought why not do it here, while we are all here?

"These fans left their homes on Friday and Saturday, the same as people did 100 years ago, but those guys never returned.

"That is why we have to remember them while we are here.

"Remembrance Sunday had to be marked - we couldn't let it pass."

The event began with a welcome from Mr Harding before a Bible reading from Dwayne Marshall.

This was followed by the singing of the hymn Abide With Me, accompanied by flautist Janice Channing.

The Exhortation was read by Chris McAleer before The Last Post was sounded on a bugle by Matthew Kells.

As 11am approached, fans fell silent for two minutes. As the service concluded, wreaths were laid by various supporters' clubs in memory of the fallen.

Mr Harding said he was delighted by the number of fans who attended the service.

"I didn't think we'd get anywhere near this number, especially with the weather," he said.

"A lot of people were involved in organising this. I came up with the idea but a lot of guys worked hard behind the scenes, finding a venue, getting in touch with someone who played the bugle and so on."

Mr Harding said the wreaths would be posted to the Ulster Tower at the Somme.

Belfast Telegraph

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