EVERYBODY in Abingdon is invited to help read out the names of the 1,300 men from the town who went to fight in the First World War in a ceremony on August 4.

The reading of the Roll of Service will be held at St Helen’s Church from 7.30pm and will take about three hours.

It will be followed by a candlelight vigil at the Abingdon Cenotaph from 10pm until 11pm when the Last Post will be sounded.

Abingdon town councillor Mike Badcock, who is leading the ceremony, is calling on town residents to read the names of their relatives.

The date will mark 100 years exactly since the day Britain declared war on Germany, beginning what was known as The Great War.

The Abingdon Roll of Service to be read out was produced by and published in the predecessor of the Oxford Mail’s sister paper, the Abingdon Herald – the North Berks Herald.

Mr Badcock said: “This will be a respectful, simple commemoration of all those who served their town and country, with the people of the town playing the major part.

“We want the people of Abingdon to lead this.”

Where possible, Mr Badcock said he would like names read out by the families of those who served, such as great, great-grandchildren.

But he said he would also like people whose occupations have been represented – postmen, carpenters, solicitors, shopkeepers and brewery workers.

Mr Badcock is also looking for members of local clubs and youth groups whose members served, such as Abingdon Town Football Club.

Names will be read in batches of 25, started by Abingdon Mayor Angela Lawrence.

Ms Lawrence said: “This is an opportunity to commemorate something awful that happened, to show our respect for all those people involved in whatever way.

“They did what they did to leave a better place for future generations – for us – and this is our time to respect that.”

Although the roll of service lists just men in the armed forces, Ms Lawrence said the ceremony also provided a chance to remember the women who served their country.

She said: “The nurses on the front line had a terrible time. It was a really awful life.

“We have the same debt to those who put themselves through an awful time to support those on the front.”

The Mayor will begin the ceremony by reading out the first verse of Rupert Brooke’s poem The Soldier.

s Anyone who would like to be involved should email enquiries@ abingdon.gov.uk for details of the list and who appears on it