The Nation Stops

On the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month, the nation stops to remember those killed in conflicts since the beginning of the First World War. Two minutes of silence pay respect to the men and women who have died in service since 1914, and to those they left behind. 
World War One was one of the largest wars in history, with an estimated 9 million military personnel and 7 million civilians killed during the conflict. After four years of global hostilities an armistice was signed between the allied forces and Germany at Compiègne, France on the 11th November 1918, marking the end of the ‘war to end all wars’. In 1919 the first remembrance event was held at Buckingham Palace on the direction of the King.

‘…all work, all sound, and all locomotion should cease, so that in perfect stillness the thoughts of everyone may be concentrated on reverent remembrance of the glorious dead.’ King George V

A century later this powerful tradition still continues and remembrance events, including two minutes of silence, are now held around the world, with ceremonies taking place at cenotaphs in numerous countries including Belize, Australia, India, Kenya and South Africa.

Here at Markel in London it is our privilege to have the opportunity to attend the annual remembrance ceremony held at Lloyd’s of London. Lloyd’s traditionally holds a service in the underwriting room at One Lime Street, attended by servicemen and women, government dignitaries and officials, as well as the brokers, underwriters and staff who work in the building. The service includes a performance by the Lloyd’s Choir, a wreath laying ceremony, the ringing of the Lutine Bell, and finally the Last Post is sounded by buglers. It is always an emotional and moving event, and this year will be particularly poignant as it marks the 100 year anniversary of Armistice Day.

From our offices at 20 Fenchurch Street we can also see the incredible tribute on display at the Tower of London. Following the highly acclaimed ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’ art installation of 888,246 ceramic poppies in 2014, the world-famous landmark is again honouring our armed forces with an exhibit called ‘Beyond the Deepening Shadow’. Each night 10,000 individual flames will be lit by volunteers, illuminating the tower in a mesmerising display of remembrance.

To pay our own respects, over the past few weeks the Marine and Energy teams have been raising money for the Royal British Legion selling poppies beautifully hand-crafted by students and staff at Edward Francis Primary school in Rayleigh, Essex.

This week we will wear our poppies with pride and remember those to whom we owe so much.

Lest we forget.

Kate Gardner, Markel International