LEDBURY people will have many opportunities next week to mark the outbreak of the First World War.

And an exhibition in the Parish Church, throughout most of August, will reveal how the home fires were kept burning, during the momentous years of 1914-1918.

Wing Commander Don Rule MBE, President of the Ledbury Branch of the Royal British Legion, is urging everyone, especially ex-service men and women, to mark the anniversary.

He said: "From the word go, the First World War became a reason for great national mourning, and that still exists. It is part of the national psyche.

"I would like to encourage all ex-servicemen and women to attend one of the ceremonies. Many will have seen action, but not perhaps the conditions in which previous colleagues fought and died."

There will be a Civic Service on Monday August 4 at 7pm in St Michael and All Angels Church, Ledbury, to mark the outbreak of the Great War.

Ledbury Rector, the Rev Paul Dunthorne said: "It was the day everything changed.

"Britain would never be the same again, as – alongside the huge loss of life – the war led to irreversible changes, not least the right of women to vote and the decline of Victorian and Edwardian society."

The service will last about an hour, including readings both from the Bible and from war poets, and will be followed by a half-muffled quarter peal rung on the church bells.

Mr Dunthorne said: "It’s not an occasion for celebration, but neither must we try to ignore and forget what happened. That would dishonour the memory of those who served, and we also wouldn’t learn the lessons from that terrible conflict."

A special exhibition in the church, "Life in Ledbury" will look at the effect of the First World War on Ledbury itself. The exhibition will run until August 20, from 9.30am to 5.00pm each day.

The Ledbury Branch of the Royal British Legion will lead a short commemoration of the outbreak of the First World War at the War Memorial, the High Street, on Tuesday August 5, from 11am.

Wing Commander Rule said: "There will be no silence, but during the service the names on the War Memorial, from the First World War, will be read out, - some 84 names.

"Rather than poppies, rosemary will be laid, which is a traditional sign of remembrance."

He added: "At the time of the First World War, Ledbury was a town of around 1000 people, and today were have around 10,000 - but imagine the impact if we lost 84 of our citizens today."

The Legion and the town council are supporting the national "Lights Out" initiative.

There will be a candle-lit vigil by the War Memorial on Monday August 4, from 10.30pm to 11pm.

If all goes to plan, Ledbury's street lamps will be turned off during that period.

Ledbury people are also being urged to show respect and turn off their home lights, while the vigil lasts.