PASSERSBY stopped and stared in amazement when a York churchyard was lit by more than 200 lanterns in memory of parishioners killed in war.

The special candlelit act of remembrance in St Lawrence's churchyard involved paper lanterns decorated by pupils at St Lawrence's Church of England Primary School in Heslington Road.

The children wrote personal messages on white paper bags to express their gratitude and sorrow to each of the 215 fallen soldiers, sailors and airmen listed on the church’s memorials, who died in the two world wars and the Falklands war.

The bags were each weighted with sand and had a small candle placed inside to make a remarkable temporary visual war memorial during Sunday evening’s Remembrance Day service.

School head Jane Nellar said it was wonderful that children had been able to contribute something to their local community in this way. “Even more important, this experience has brought the significance of Remembrance Day close to their hearts.”

Father Michael Fairey, a member of the Ministry Team for the parishes of St. Lawrence's and St. Hilda's, who presided and preached at the service, said that sometimes, sadly, Remembrance Day could be taken for granted. “Hopefully, things like this will remind people of the huge loss of young life in small parishes like St. Lawrence's,” he said.

“During World War Two, up to 60 million people died, more than two per cent of the world's population at the time. More than half of them were civilians. It's important that our young people are helped to remember and reflect upon the immense sacrifice and loss of life due to war.”

He said that people walking past had stopped to look in amazement at the scene and added that, as one candle was being lit, a member of the congregation had happened to come up, seen the name on the lantern, put her hand to her mouth and said: “That’s my brother.”

Bugler Leo Conroy played the Last Post and Reveille during the service, he added.