Donations made to Westville cenotaph restoration

John Brannen, The News
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WESTVILLE – Esther Gratto stops to look at the photos and medals on the wall of the Pictou County Military Heritage Museum. At 94, she too remembers her service during World War Two.

 

Esther Gratto, left, David Dignan, Vincent Joyce on behalf of Mary Allard and Jane and Isabel Richardson present their $500 donations for the Westville Cenotaph Restoration Project. The project hopes to restore the cenotaph and sculpture by restoring the names of the fallen, adding an accessibility walkway and revitalizing the surrounding grounds.

Her service, from 1942 to 1945 took her from Sydney to Gander, where she worked as a supply technician.

It’s why she decided to donate $500 to the Westville Cenotaph Restoration Project.

“I have the means so I knew I should do my part,” she said.

Gratto, along with four others, presented her donation to project chair Vincent Joyce at the museum on Monday. Dr. David Dignan, Mary Allard and Jane and Isabel Richardson also donated $500 bringing the total to $2,500.

“I want to see the cenotaph remain standing proudly,” said Dignan. “I’ve always taken my family there and want this tradition to continue.”

The Westville cenotaph was unveiled in 1921 and originally paid tribute to the fallen in World War One. The bronze sculpture by German-born Emanuel Hahn was the first of its kind and was highly popular and copied throughout the nation.

One Canadian war memorial expert has called the Westville sculpture and cenotaph the best community war memorial in Canada.

As time has taken its toll, the letters in some of the names of the fallen cannot be read and the letters have fallen off. There is no accessibility walkway, erosion has taken hold in the surrounding and front-centre walkway is deteriorating.

Jane and Isabel Richardson noted that the grief of war affected their family. Though they had never met, they were moved by the death of their 19-year-old relative during World War One.

“He and all the others should always be honoured,” said Jane.

Mary Allard has family members listed on the Westville cenotaph.

According to Joyce, the Westville Cenotaph Restoration Project has received a great boost through the donations of the people above.

“These types of donations are fantastic,” said project Chairman Vincent Joyce. “Words cannot express how I feel.”

Fifty-five letters have been hand delivered to local businesses, groups and organizations in the county. Acropole Pizza, Barb’s Diner and the #110 Wing Air Force Club in Stellarton have already made donations, to name a few.

“This is a very great project to honour our soldiers who made the supreme sacrifice for us,” said Joyce. “Help us to honour them.”

Anyone wishing to make a donation may contact Joyce at 396-2194.

john.brannen@ngnews.ca

On Twitter: @NGNewsJohn

Organizations: Wing Air Force Club

Geographic location: Sydney, Gander, Canada Stellarton

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