On Wednesday 6th November, just in time for remembrance, the Wadebridge War Memorial in Coronation Park was re-lit.

The memorial stands above the town, up a narrow Cornish lane and well past the houses, and the wind was blowing more than somewhat. As I arrived an official-looking gent in a smart overcoat and a name badge was setting out plastic chairs. “Are these for VIPs or can anyone sit here?” I asked. “They’re for anyone who needs them, who can’t stand,” he said. The wind blew over half a dozen chairs. “I’ll sit on this one till someone needs it, to stop it blowing away,” I said.

An old lady was escorted up and sat in one of the chairs near to me. She wore two medals. She had joined up early in the second war (under-age, to get away from her mother) and became a driver. The bigger the lorry, the easier it was, she told me.

More people arrived. The WREN Operations Manager, some WREN directors, people in smart coats and uniforms, people (like me) in not so smart but warm coats, my next door neighbours. Night began to fall, and the speeches started.

A representative of the Whiterock Residents Association spoke first. The memorial, as with most others of its kind, shows the names of the townspeople who died in service in the two world wars. Council cost cutting in 2010 resulted in the lights going out. (The amount of electricity actually used is quite small; it seems it was the standing charges from a ‘big six’ supplier that killed them.) The Whiterock residents, who live just down the hill from the memorial, started a campaign to re-illuminate it. WREN became involved and through its contacts with Good Energy (the renewable electricity supply company) and Western Power Distribution (the electricity distribution network operator for the South West) managed to secure a suitable electricity supply to the memorial. I say ‘contacts’, I mean ‘Chairman’. This was on the ‘too difficult’ pile for everyone else.

There were brief speeches by the Mayor of Wadebridge and a Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Cornwall. Prayers were said, and a blessing by the vicar. Three poppy wreaths were laid at the foot of the memorial, followed by two minutes silence.

The lights themselves, the subject of the ceremony, were almost out of sight on the other side of the memorial from where we all stood. This was not wrong. They are meant to light the side viewed from down in the town, rather than in the park. Why not stand on that side, then? The memorial is close by the edge of the park, with a haha and a metre drop into a scrubby field beyond, that’s why not.

You might be wondering why WREN was involved. After all, the lights are the original ones, not new low energy LEDs. Solar panels and wind turbines have not been erected alongside to power them. And if it’s energy efficiency you are after, why illuminate a war memorial at all?

This is to misunderstand WREN. Parts of the green movement might want to reduce energy consumption drastically, with a rapid, large-scale change in the way we live. That’s not WREN. If you want to take people with you, telling them they have to put on hair-shirts is not the best way to go about it. The idea is not to make people’s lives more difficult, but to make them better while at the same time reducing energy consumption. Improving the insulation in homes makes people more comfortable and lowers their energy costs and usage. Helping them install solar PV or biomass boilers reduces their exposure to increases in (fossil fuel) electricity and gas prices.

Re-illuminating the war memorial is important to some people and removes a source of aggravation and grievance. And with Good Energy as the supplier, the electricity is generated from a renewable source, quite possibly only as far away as Delabole.

These are personal opinions and should not be misunderstood as representing the opinions of WREN.