I have developed an interest in genealogy. Hoping to find that Sir Nicholas Fazackerley, MP for Preston in the 18th century, was a forebear, I was, to my shame, rather disappointed to find that my ancestor of around that time was a butcher on Friargate!
However, any disappointment has been superseded by my discovery that my late father’s uncle, Harold Fazackerley, also of Preston, was awarded the Military Medal and bar in the 1st World War.
An early volunteer in the Preston Pals, Harold became a member of the Cyclist Corps, a relatively low-key position, but rose to the rank of 2nd Lieutenant before being killed in action in September 1918.
He was one of eleven, an apprentice draughtsman who was part of a vocal duet with his friend, Clive Whittle, also killed in action. The Preston Herald of 19th September 1914 noted that “We hope soon to see them back from the war, pursuing the more peaceful occupation of entertaining the Lancashire public”. Tragically, it was not to be.
My research helped to bring Harold to life for me, much as did the recent amazing film ‘They Shall Not Grow Old’, in which archive footing is transformed and colourised and life at the Front is revealed through the voices of soldiers, using diaries and letters. I’m sure those of us who watched the film will never forget it.
This year we have reflected on a century passing since the end of the Great War and I felt that this should be the theme of my Christmas message this year as it is such a momentous anniversary and has, I am sure, affected us all deeply and significantly.
As someone who has not lived through a major conflict, it is important to be reminded of the huge debt we owe to those who braved the horror of such a conflict, who went gladly to face the unknown, leaving all that they held dear behind them, to secure our precious way of life. There were hundreds of thousands of young men such as Harold and Clive who were denied a future and who personified the words of Jesus that “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” and we will mourn their loss for ever.
May I wish you a joyful Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year, assured of the freedom safeguarded for us by the sacrifices of past generations.
Councillor Susan Fazackerley MBE
Leader of Fylde Council