The great granddaughter of one of 24 employees of ICI who gave their lives during the Second World War unveiled a plaque at the re-dedication of a memorial at what is now Syngenta in Huddersfield.
Nikita Seabright, who is apprenticeships manager at Syngenta, attended with members of her family to remember great grandfather Harold Toulcher who died over 70 years ago.
The re-dedication was part of a multi-faith ceremony to remember the 24 workers of the former Imperial Chemical Industries works.
The Vicar of Huddersfield, the Rev Canon Rachel Firth, led the service and Mayor of Kirklees, Clr Cahal Burke, read a poem ‘For the Fallen’ by Laurence Binyon.
Members of the local branch of the Royal British Legion, vice-chairman Bill Pigott and standard bearer Jackie Morris also attended along with members of the Kirklees Interfaith Network and Syngenta employees.
Syngenta’s Leeds Road premises has been home to the memorial since it was first dedicated in 1949. The original memorial was hand carved in stone with 22 names but quickly weathered and was covered with a plaque shortly afterwards, listing 24 named employees who gave their lives.
The intervening decades took their toll, and despite regular maintenance and repairs, a full refurbishment was carried out this year – and the improvement is striking.
Harold Toulcher was born in Huddersfield in 1912 and worked for the company until he was called up as a gunner to the 38th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery. He was married with two children when he was killed, fighting for King and Country, in Benghazi, Libya, in 1942.
Nikita said: “It is a real honour to have been asked to unveil the refurbished memorial to my great granddad and his fallen colleagues.
“Everyone who knew him said he was a lovely man and my family and I have visited the memorial on Remembrance Day for the two-minute silence organised the company, many times over the years. It means a great deal to us.
“As a Syngenta employee it is especially humbling and a proud moment to be a part of the re-dedication.”
Pete Waddington, Syngenta Huddersfield site manager, said: “Distressing events continue to take place across the world, and it is sobering to think that in some countries today, civilians are being mobilised for military duty.
“We shall never forget the sacrifice that Harold Toulcher and these 23 other fallen citizens of our Huddersfield site, gave for our freedom during World War Two.
“The refurbishment and blessing of the memorial plaque was the right thing to do and I am grateful to our civic guests for their support.”
Clr Burke added: “It is an honour to attend the blessing of the memorial plaque as it is a poignant tribute to those who gave their lives.
“As Remembrance Day draws closer, it is important we remember the sacrifices made by those in wars and conflicts for the freedoms we have today.
“The memorial is a fitting reminder that the world wars had a lasting impact in places across the globe, the Commonwealth and here in our borough.
“We should honour those brave people and be proud that we have people in Kirklees willing to put their lives before others.”