A well-attended service has taken place in the Ashington Memorial Garden today (Thursday 1 November) to unveil two commemorative stones.

The stones placed on brick plinths, within the Garden, recognise Hugh Cairns VC & DCM, on the 100th Anniversary of the awarding of the Victoria Cross (VC), and the Ashington Airfield and its contribution to the WWI war effort.

Hugh Cairns was born in Ashington before his family emigrated to Canada in 1911.  As WWI raged Hugh enlisted in the Canadian Army and received the Distinguished Conduct Medal in 1917. Hugh was then awarded the Victoria Cross on the 1 November 1918 for conspicuous bravery before dying of the wounds he received on the 2 November. The commemorative stone is part of the UK Governments First World War centenary campaign that has seen a total of 469 stones laid across towns and villages in the UK recognising, in their home towns, all those who received a Victoria Cross during WWI.  

The service also recognised those that served at the Ashington Airfield and the important role it played, as part of Britain’s WWI Home Defence Stations, in winning the conflict. The Airfields of Britain Conservation Trust have provided the commemorative stone marking this contribution.

The Service was led by the Reverend Michael Hedley, Minister of the Ashington Word of Life Wesleyan Reform Union Church, who highlighted the pride that the Ashington community has in one of its famous sons. Cllr. David Ledger, the Armed Forces Champion for Northumberland County Council, unveiled the Hugh Cairns stone, and Cllr. Marjorie Chambers, Civic Head of Ashington, unveiled the Airfield stone. Music was provided by Ashington Colliery Band.

The service was organised by Ashington Town Council working in partnership with the Ashington Branch of the Royal British Legion and Northumberland County Council.  

Ashington Town Council would like to thank everyone who supported the Service including Ashington Camera Club who photographed the event. The landscaping work within the Garden was carried out by Brambledown Landscape Services Ltd.