ONE OF the largest programmes of events to commemorate the centenary of the First World War will take place in Worcestershire it has been revealed.
The news comes after the County Council found out it had been successful in its bid for more than £350,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to help pay for an array of exhibitions, parades, concerts, church services and remembrance events until November 2018 and beyond.
As well as commemorations of the military sacrifice – particularly the role of the Worcestershire Regiment at the Battle of Gheluvelt in 1914 – the programme of events will look at the Home Front and the impact of the war on the people left back at home in the county.
Led by the Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service, people will also be encouraged to get involved by donating or lending items related to the war and by learning at first hand about the wartime experience.
The Mayor of Worcester, Coun Pat Agar, has chaired the steering group which has organised programme of events.
“No one in Worcestershire was untouched by the First World War,” she said.
“From the men who fought on the front to the women, children and older people who kept our county running amidst the horror of conflict – all witnessed change as never before.
“This programme of events will allow us to recall their experiences and see the impact they still have on our lives today.”
Worcestershire’s calendar of commemoration will also encompass the Three Choirs Festival in July, which will feature a First World War theme.
Coun Lucy Hodgson, Worcestershire County Council cabinet member for localism and communities, added: “Commemorating all the men, women and children of Worcestershire touched by World War One is of paramount importance. What they did and went through will never be forgotten.
“The successful bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund has made this possible and it’s fantastic to be working with so many groups and organisations across the county to bring about such a wide range of varied events from 2014 until 2018.
“We will never, and should never, forget our heroes and this programme of events will ensure future generations are aware of the sacrifices made by the people of Worcestershire.”
Some of the main events for next year have now been announced and more will be confirmed nearer the time but organisers are also hoping people across the county will start to organise their own activities across the centenary period, from street parties to talks and exhibitions.
A new website has been launched at www.WW1worcestershire.co.uk which has details of all events confirmed so far, gives advice on organising activities and offers the chance to add an event to a calendar covering the whole centenary.
Events confirmed so far for 2014 include:
July-September: Woodbine Willie Exhibition at Worcester Cathedral
July-September: Back in Blighty exhibition at Avoncroft Museum of Buildings, Stoke heath, Bromsgrove
July-September: Outbreak of War exhibition at The Hive
July-December: Soldiers’ Biographies exhibition at Worcester City Art Gallery & Museum
July-December: Voluntary Aid exhibition at the County Museum, Hartlebury Castle
July 26 – August 2: Three Choirs Festival, with a special First World War theme. Events will include the premier of new work A Foreign Field by Torsten Rasch, while the opening night will be a performance of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem, which includes poems by Wilfred Owen
August 9: multi-faith Cathedral Service to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the war
August 16: 150th birthday party of 214 (Worcestershire) Battery Royal Artillery. At Pitchcroft race course there will be a large collection of modern and historic military vehicles on display.
August 17-18: Overbury village history weekend
October 31: Enhanced Gheluvelt Day service including a parade at Gheluvelt Park, Worcester
November: An enhanced programme of events to mark Remembrance Sunday will include a poppy drop in Worcester and a Big Poppy Day