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1,000 attend service, exceeding last year

Upwards of 1,000 people descended on the cenotaph at Richmond City Hall for the annual Remembrance Day service.

Upwards of 1,000 people descended on the cenotaph at Richmond City Hall for the annual Remembrance Day service.

And, thanks to the ingenuity of one Richmond resident and the generosity of sponsors, even more members of the public who came to honour the fallen were able to enjoy an after-service reception inside city hall.

For the second year running, Judith Hutson has organized the reception, which included free coffee and donuts and entertainment from the R.C. Palmer Vocal Jazz Ensemble.

But the 1,000 or so that filled city hall's ground floor last year was surpassed, Hutson estimates, on Friday.

"It's hard to gauge for sure, but I'd say there was between 1,000 and 1,400 people there," said Hutson, who wanted to thank the sponsors, Outpost Mini Donuts, Oughtred Coffee and Tea and the Bean & Beyond Cafe.

"It went beautifully - and it seemed to last longer than last year. Although this time we had food and drink for about 1,000 people, so that would have helped."

Hutson - who has no direct connection to either World War through immediate family - said she felt compelled to set up a post-service event after seeing so many young people desperate to hear veterans' life stories.

"A few years ago, I noticed so many people wanting to speak to the veterans, but their families were, understandably, wanting to get them home out of the cold," Hutson said.

"So I worked with the city to organize this and got the interest of the

sponsors, who have been amazing in their donations."

In fact, over the last four years, Hutson, who's not attached to any local organization, brought to the city's attention the Remembrance Day service's poor sound system, the lack of order of service distribution and covered seating availability for seniors.

Since then, with the help of volunteers, she has worked with the city and the Canadian Legion to vastly improve the Remembrance Day event for everyone.

"I just really believe in the importance of this event," Hutson said.

"I'm just so happy to live in a democratic state and we wouldn't have all that today if it wasn't for the contributions of the people who gave their lives."