Monday, 6 October 2014

Young Ralph was our hero...

Young Ralph was our hero...

Captain Lawrence Oates walked bravely to his death in the Antarctic ice of 1912, but few know of a similar sacrifice by Ralph Bolton, a young Darwen lad just a few years later.

They had nothing in common ¬–except for heart-wrenching heroism.

Oates had been educated at Eton; Ralph at St Barnabas' school. The Oates family were landowners in the South, rich and well-connected; Ralph's parents were poor, Northern mill folk. Oates was a former cavalry officer with the 6th Dragoons and had fought with distinction in the Second Boer War; Ralph was a cotton weaver and a sergeant in the Church Lads' Brigade. Oates was tall and strong with an effortless elegance; Ralph was, well, just a little Darren lad.

Of course, Oates died before the horror of the Great War; Ralph and his pals died at the height of the conflict when sacrifice, duty and heroism, even among the young, were daily occurrences. The tragedy of their deaths has been overshadowed ... until now.

The bravery of 16-year-old Ralph in giving up his top coat to his young cousin and leaving him sheltered in the lee of a low stone wall in the darkness of a moorland blizzard will be remembered at a concert in Blackburn Cathedral which will feature the world premiere of a tone poem composed by world-renowned musician David Mellor, whose parents once had the off-licence at the corner of Edmund St and Ratcliffe St..

The Greater Love Hath No Man concert on Saturday, November 15, will include the Fauré Requiem and Cantique and Mellor's Peace Anthem and his Tragedy on Darwen Moor. Tickets, from £5 to £30, are available from and King George's Hall box office on 0844 847 1664.