A chair made for the 1979 Tynwald Day ceremony is to form part of an installation at the In Flanders Fields Museum in Belgium to commemorate the centenary of the Armistice.
The chair is one of a number made by Remploy, a company specialising in supporting disabled people into work, to provide seating for guests who attended the ceremony in St John’s in 1979 to mark the millennium of Tynwald. It is crafted from laminated sheets of softwood, with the back decorated with an embossed gold-coloured Viking ship.
The installation by UK artist Val Carman will feature more than 120 chairs from countries around the world which had suffered losses in Belgium during the First World War. The Tynwald Day chair will be the sole chair to represent the Isle of Man and will remain in Ypres.
The donation of the chair follows an approach to the President of Tynwald, the Hon Steve Rodan MLC, by the Royal British Legion Isle of Man county chairman Ray Ferguson.
Mr Ferguson said: ‘We are extremely pleased and privileged to be a part of this initiative as so many from the Isle of Man paid the supreme sacrifice during the Great War. Our chair will represent the 1,261 who never returned.’
Mr President said: ‘Tynwald is both proud and humbled to have been invited to represent the Isle of Man in a project that will resonate profoundly with people around the world.
‘The chairs from the Tynwald Day millennium celebrations serve as a permanent reminder of our nation’s thousand-year-old parliament. I believe it is therefore fitting that one of these chairs should now be contributing to a permanent reminder of those who served and those who died in conflict for our benefit and of the debt all of us – and future generations - owe to them.’
The President of Tynwald, the Hon Steve Rodan MLC, the Speaker of the House of Keys, the Hon Juan Watterson SHK and Royal British Legion Isle of Man county vice-chairman Major Charles Wilson are pictured with the Tynwald Day chair destined for the In Flanders Fields Museum in Belgium. Photo Paul Dougherty
Notes for editors:
The Isle of Man played an important role in the First World War, supplying troops and vessels and running special camps for the internment of enemy aliens.
Official records show that 8,261 men enlisted in the armed forces, which was 82.3% of the Isle of Man’s male population of military age. Of these, 1,261 gave their lives and 987 were wounded.
269 officers and men from the Isle of Man gained high honours during the Great War, with practically all the main battlefronts represented.