DIGNITARIES, veterans and Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service Choir gathered at Tatton Park on August 4 to commemorate the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War.

Cheshire East Reflects, part of Cheshire East Council, held a solemn and poignant ceremony in which a specially commissioned ‘Flame of Remembrance’ was lit, marking the start of four years of events across the borough.

Tatton MP George Osborne was honoured with switching on the flame, which will remain lit outside the mansion gates until November 11, 2018, the date of the Armistice.

Before flicking the switch, Mr Osborne said: “Let this flame stand as a reminder of all those who fought on our behalf and commemorate those who died so we may live in freedom today.”

Mr Osborne planted a poppy that he had been given earlier that day in Glasgow at the foot of the structure.

He had been asked to lay the poppy in a place of importance to him.

Before the flame-lighting ceremony, Lord Lieutenant of Cheshire David Briggs also started a digital online countdown clock, which will be displayed on the Cheshire East Reflects website.

Created as a trench watch, similar to those worn by many soldiers, the timepiece counts the days passed and lives lost during the war, and will continue clocking up until November 11 2018.

Knutsford Town Mayor Clr Neil Forbes was one of the Knutsford dignitaries present and said he felt privileged to attend.

He added: “I knew about WWI from the dusty and dry pages of my school history books but it’s only when those pages and the sacrifices they contain are made real by the stories of individuals and the towns and villages the soldiers came from does the true extent of their sacrifice force its way forward - sobering.”