Commemorating Remembrance Sunday 2020

Neil Emery, Chair of our Armed Forces Network, shares his thoughts on the challenges of commemorating Remembrance Sunday during the pandemic and how the NHSBSA is supporting veterans.


November 8 this year marks Remembrance Sunday – a day we all unite in commemorating and remembering the military and civilian servicemen and women in the two World Wars and later conflicts.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has made  Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day more challenging this year – we’ve all had to consider new ways of performing Remembrance activities. Despite the changes this year, our recently established armed forces colleague network has been working with staff across the organisation to increase awareness.

The network is a non-exclusive group which is open to all employees. It has a mix of armed forces veterans, those who have a general interest in the armed forces, reservist, cadet volunteers, and those with a family member who once served or is still serving. The aim is to build a network of support for veterans, increase the visibility of the NHSBSA as an employer of choice within the armed forces community, and help celebrate and commemorate important events in the armed forces calendar with colleagues.

Having the network in place is really important as it brings benefits to both network members, the NHSBSA as an organisation, and our armed forces veterans.

We’ve been very busy raising awareness and supporting through Remembrance Sunday on 8 November and Armistice Day on 11 November.

As we get closer to Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day, people move from thinking about personal losses to remembering those who have died serving their country. Inevitably, even as people take part in these events, they will also be remembering other losses in their lives.​​​​ Many people touched by loss of some kind during the COVID-19 pandemic may also find this to be an especially poignant time as more people search for meaning and hope.

Supporting members of the armed forces community in our workforce is an important employment matter, especially when there are many benefits that reservists, service leavers and the wider community can bring to the NHSBSA.

As we begin our period of remembrance, we feel it’s important, more so in the current climate, to remember our fallen and support those who have given everything to their country and compatriots alike.

What is Remembrance about?

Since World War I ended, every year on 11 November we unite across faiths, cultures, and backgrounds to remember the service and sacrifice of the armed forces community from Britain and the Commonwealth.

Over 16 million people died during World War I. One of the largest battles during the war was the Battle of the Somme in France. It lasted from 1 July to 18 November 1916. Around one million people were killed or wounded during that time.

Remembrance Day, also called Armistice Day, is on 11 November every year since King George V declared it in 1919. It is a time to think about those in the armed forces who have died in battle, not just in World War I. At 11am on Remembrance Sunday (the Sunday before Remembrance Day), there is a two-minute silence. There are also special ceremonies on Remembrance Sunday all over the country, including one in London at the Cenotaph war memorial.

Poppies are a symbol of Remembrance Day because they grew all over the battlefields in Northern France and Flanders. Red poppies grow naturally in places in Western Europe where the soil has been turned over and mixed up. A natural reaction to all the fighting that had taken place there and destruction to the land.

The Royal British Legion’s annual poppy appeal has lots of virtual remembrance ideas this year and the NHSBSA’s Armed Forces Network will be promoting ways of getting involved.