10th June 2024 | Lieutenancy News

D-Day commemoration at Headley Court to mark Canadian contribution to the war effort

On Friday 7th June, HM Lord Lieutenant and The Honourable Ralph Goodale PC, High Commissioner for Canada in the United Kingdom hosted a commemorative D-Day event at the historic Headley Court to mark the 80th anniversary.

Headley Court, which was most recently a rehabilitation centre for injured members of the British Armed Forces, was an important centre for the Canadian 1st and 2nd Divisions during the war effort, serving as the senior field headquarters for the majority of the Second World War. With the nearby Headley Heath also a centre for Canadian Engineers.  

The event was hosted by Audley Group, which now owns Headley Court, and saw over 80 guests mark D-Day and the historic role Headley Court played in the war effort by planting a Maple Tree in the grounds.

Speakers on the day included the Canadian defence attache Brigadier General Parsons, Lieutenant Colonel Tim Petransky of Army Headquarters South East, alongside the acclaimed historian and Epsom College head teacher, Sir Anthony Seldon. 

Effingham Schools CCF Combined Cadet Force, alongside members of the Irish Guard and the local community, welcomed guests and a commemorative book was gifted to the Canadian High Commissioner. Councillor David Preedy was presented with a ceremonial flag which will eventually fly once work has completed on the site.  

Audley Group acquired Headley Court in 2022 and the restoration of the Jacobean style Grade II listed historic mansion house and stables, as part of a new retirement village, is well underway. 

HM Lord Lieutenant said: “It was a great pleasure to welcome the High Commissioner for Canada in the United Kingdom to Surrey, The Honourable Ralph Goodale PC. Canada’s place in the story of D-Day is a vital one and Headley Court as the headquarters for Canadian Forces Europe was at the heart of that immense effort. The legacy is felt today and it is an immense privilege to honour the memory of the brave men and women of Canada who did so much in the service of freedom.”

The Honourable Ralph Goodale PC, High Commissioner of Canada for the United Kingdom, said: “The bonds linking Canada and the United Kingdom are deeply rooted in places like Headley Court.  From hundreds of years of shared history and heritage, touching every dimension of our lives, our two countries have between us a vast reservoir of mutual respect and trust, based on our lived-experience with one another and on the values we have promoted and defended together in the world for a very long time.  So it was that thousands of young Canadians came to this part of Surrey eight decades ago to become part of the largest, most consequential military operation in human history – shoulder-to-shoulder with Britain and other allies, they gave their all for freedom, democracy, human rights and decency.  Not one of them shall be forgotten.  From Canada to all of you:  Thank you for remembering.”

Nick Sanderson, CEO, Audley Group, said: “Events are taking place across the country to mark D-Day and I am so proud we hosted one of them here at Audley Headley Court, with so many esteemed guests. The Maple Tree will mark this occasion, and serve as a reminder of the pivotal role Headley Court played in the war effort for years to come. It’s incredible to see the restoration of the mansion house and stables and I look forward to welcoming everyone back to the village once it’s complete to mark the next chapter for Headley Court.” 

Tracy Pearson, Squadron Leader at Effingham Schools CCF, said: “The cadets from Effingham Schools CCF very much enjoyed taking part in celebrating the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings and honouring the Canadian Army Contingent that were based at Headley Court during World War II alongside the invited dignitaries and residents who are able to remember the Canadian forces in Surrey.”

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