NOSTALGIA: Remembering the Battle of the Somme, 100 years on

Over the top: British troops advance during the Battle of the Somme
Over the top: British troops advance during the Battle of the Somme

This year marks the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, one of the First World War’s most notorious and far-reaching confrontations.

From the heavy losses and injuries suffered by the Pals battalions and soldiers drafted from across the British Empire to the dramatic increase in manufacturing at home to supply the Front, the battle touched the lives of almost every community across the UK and beyond.

It is important we remember and understand the impact of this and other aspects of the First World War 100 years on so, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) is encouraging groups across south east England to apply for funding so they can explore some of the many ways in which it impacted on their communities.

The money is available through HLF’s community grants programme First World War: then and now.

Some £4million is available in 2015/16 as grants between £3,000 to £10,000.

Sir Peter Luff, chair of the HLF, said, “The demand for National Lottery funding for First World War projects has been phenomenal, so much so we’ve decided to make extra money available.

“This will mean everyone, in particular more young people, can explore the momentous events of a war that shaped our nation, Europe and the world.

“This year marks the centenary of the Battle of the Somme and if groups want support for projects, they need to start thinking about applying now.

“Thanks to National Lottery funding, thousands of young people and communities throughout the UK have already been involved in activities marking the centenary such as: researching and recording local heritage; conserving and finding out more about war memorials; and using digital technology to share the fascinating stories they uncover.

“This new money will help even more people get involved to explore a greater range of stories including those surrounding the Battle of the Somme.

“The breadth and scale of First World War stories being explored and shared across the country so far has been remarkable.

“HLF has already funded some incredibly inspiring stories across south east England including the Museum of Oxford’s project uncovering the ‘Lost voices of Oxford’s Great War’ and an Eastbourne-based project – The Right to Refuse – that traced the history of conscientious objectors during the war, the reasons for their refusal to fight and the treatment they received. Many were incarcerated and put to road-building in nearby Seaford.

“Another project was a community-led project into the lives of almost 1,000 local men from just 21 streets in the Buckland area of Portsmouth who names are listed on local war memorials. Most of those listed served in the Royal Navy.”

“Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about - from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife.

“HLF has invested more than £70million to more than 1,300 projects across the UK marking the centenary of the First World War.

“This funding has reached almost 80 per cent of parliamentary constituencies and almost 90 per cent of local authorities.”

• HLF’s First World War: then and now programme is providing grants between £3,000 and £10,000 to local communities looking to explore and understand their First World War heritage. Larger grants for First World War projects are also available through HLF’s open programmes www.hlf.org.uk/firstworldwar

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