THE annual Remembrance Sunday ceremony at the First World War memorial at St Michael’s Church at Inveresk on November 8 has been cancelled this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

There will be a service in the kirk at 10.15am, with restrictions.

The Rev Malcolm Lyon, minister of St Michael’s and its daughter church St John’s, Whitecraig, said: “As was reported in the Courier a few weeks back, East Lothian Council is cancelling events that they organise themselves and asking others to think seriously about organising other events across the county which involve people gathering, and potentially breaking social distancing rules.

“Organisations from across our community can still lay a wreath at the memorial but, sadly, due to all the restrictions imposed upon us, there will not be a live service marking the event.

“If they wish they could photograph this and post it on their own web or Facebook pages, and they could forward it to us and we would try to include them on the church social media pages.”

Mr Lyon added: “Inside the church itself, we are limited to 40 worshippers. There is no singing of hymns allowed and the congregation has to wear a face covering, which is uncomfortable and means the services are kept short.

“At the moment, we are having to ask people to forward book a seat in church every Sunday morning to avoid people being disappointed if they arrive and we have already reached capacity, albeit much reduced.

“Since we reopened last month, there have not been many spare seats available.

“With all the uncertainty around gatherings indoor and out, the fluid nature of dealing with the virus and the planning and organising of bringing together the people involved, sadly the event this year cannot take place.

“I can assure everyone that nobody is more disappointed and upset about this than I am.”

Mr Lyon said: “Over the years, I have visited many places related to remembering those who gave their all, including the Second World War cemetery at Dunkirk in France, retracing steps of the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium, the Cenotaph in London, as well as the Imperial War Museums in London and Manchester, and the death camp at Dachau in Germany.

“The most moving and the one that has left the deepest emotion within me was to the battlefields of the First World War on the Western Front in 2018 – the centenary of the end of the Great War.

“Therefore, instead of concentrating on what we cannot do, let us think about what we can do to remember.”

People will be invited to join in live reflections via Zoom, as well as tuning into pre-recorded daily messages via social media in tribute to the war dead.

Mr Lyon added that he would be looking at war poets and their work, holding live Zoom reflections each afternoon from Monday, November 2, to Friday, November 6.

He will also be pre-recording daily messages that will go out on the church webpage and Facebook page each day, Monday to Friday.

Also pre-recorded will be the session clerk, Maureen Talac, and Deputy Lord Lieutenant, Iain Clark, laying wreaths for posting on social media.