One Year to Go –Victoria Cross Winners put at the heart of plans to mark centenary of First World War in 2014

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One Year to Go –Victoria Cross Winners put at the heart of plans to mark centenary of First World War in 2014

  • Victoria Cross winners will be recognised for their valour and sacrifice across the country
  • Help for local communities to restore and refurbish war memorials

One year away from the start of the First World War four year centenary programme a new series of measures have been announced that will see help to restore war memorials up and down the country, and Victoria Cross winners honoured.

Victoria Cross winners will be at the heart of the Government’s plans to commemorate the centenary of the First World War. Special commemorative paving stones will be laid in the home towns of all those in the United Kingdom awarded the Victoria Cross for valour ‘in the face of the enemy’ during the conflict.

As part of the four year centenary programme, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has announced a national competition to design specially commissioned paving stones which will be presented to councils in the areas where those Victoria Cross recipients of the First World War were born.

The stones will provide an enduring legacy in local communities of their local heroes- a fitting tribute to mark the centenary of their extraordinary bravery and service fighting for their country. This will also enable residents to gain a greater understanding of how their area fitted into the story of the First World War.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said:

“It is our duty to remember the British and Commonwealth troops who lost their lives fighting in the Great War and we are determined to make sure their bravery for King and Country is not forgotten.

“Laying paving stones to mark these Victoria Cross heroes will ensure that there is a permanent memorial to all the fallen who fought for our country and the competition is a great way for people from all corners of the United Kingdom to get involved.

“This will connect communities to their shared history, help residents understand how their area played its part in the Great War, and ensure memories of that sacrifice for British freedom and liberty are kept alive for generations to come.”

Culture Secretary Maria Miller said:

“The First World War had a fundamental effect on the course of our history.  It also saw nearly a million British military and civilian deaths, heroes from communities across the commonwealth who fought for King and Country.  But as time passes, the living links that connect that terrible time and the present day have dwindled.  So it is really important that we mark the centenary which, saw some of the darkest days in our history, and remind everyone of the sacrifice that was made – and how it has affected all our lives today.”

With one year to go until commemorations begin the Government has also announced more help will be made available for local communities to restore and refurbish their war memorials. A new website will be created, to help make sure that people across the country can get funding and support so that all First World War memorials are in good condition for November 2018.

Communities are now feeling the real benefit of Lottery funding.  Today the Heritage Lottery Fund is announcing the first grants under its new £6 million ‘First World War – Then and Now’ small grants programme.  From Devon to Durham, and from Brecon to Bridlington – the Lottery is supporting local people who are commemorating the centenary in exciting and imaginative ways.

As we look ahead to this time next year, music and culture will play an important part at the start of the centenary on 4 August 2014.  The BBC will reflect the importance of the centenary in their planning for next year’s Proms season.  And in Wales, the Eisteddfod in Llanelli will feature events with a centenary theme.   People up and down the country will be able to take part in events as part of the creative and artistic programme which will run throughout the centenary period.  And they will also be able to be a part of a multi-faith Vigil which will take place in cathedrals, churches and elsewhere.  With just one year to go, this is an invitation to everyone to play a part in a centenary that is a truly fitting commemoration of this world-altering event.

Today also sees the launch of a campaign to get 100 employers signed up to the new Centenary Apprenticeship scheme in 100 days. The aim is to get companies who existed 100 years ago, who focus on crafts with a modern application, to join the scheme. Any who join up will be able to badge the apprenticeship with the Centenary logo.

Skills Minister Matthew Hancock said:

“Apprenticeships originated from centuries-old trades like stonemasonry and clock making, and today reflect the broad sweep of the modern economy. So it will be fitting to mark 100 years since the start of the First World War with Apprenticeships in skills that existed at the time.

“The Centenary Apprenticeship Programme will give young people the unique opportunity to be part of an important commemoration while also acquiring skills that are valuable and relevant today.”



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