Francis Maude: honour to attend Remembrance Day

Horsham MP Francis Maude

Horsham MP Francis Maude

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As in many previous years, last Sunday I had the honour of attending and laying a wreath at the Horsham Remembrance Day wreath-laying ceremony and church service.

It’s a special and moving occasion and one that Horsham District Council and the people of the town do very well. With our hectic lifestyles and general ‘time-poverty’ it’s wonderful to see so many people turn out – I understand that numbers increase year on year, with people taking the opportunity to pay their respects and remember those who laid down their lives for our country.

So, it seems timely to update readers on our plans for commemorating the Centenary of the First World War and which amount to a four-year programme, focusing on three key historic moments:

04 August 2014 – the centenary of the British Empire’s entry to the war

July 2016 – the Battle of the Somme

November 2018 – centenary of the Armistice

Activities will be on community, national and international levels and more events are being planned each week. On 04 August 2014, national events will start at the Commonwealth Commemoration in Glasgow, followed by a ceremony at St Symphorien Military Cemetery, Belgium and ending with a candlelit vigil at Westminster Abbey.

The Imperial War Museums Centenary Partnership (www.1914.org) has almost 2,000 members from 38 countries who will be organising commemorative projects and events and, from early next year, a programme of battlefield visits for secondary school students will get underway.

The Heritage Lottery Fund has now allocated over £34m to 199 Centenary-related projects across the UK including some £12m to restore the last surviving warship from the Battle of Jutland and £2.5m for the refurbishment of the Tank Museum in Dorset.

A particularly popular project will see First World War Victoria Cross recipients honoured in their home towns – specially commissioned paving stones, with a design chosen through a public competition, will be laid throughout the centenary period. It’s great to see the plans develop as the anniversary grows closer – the whole four year programme will be an opportunity for our country to come together, just as we did for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics and Paralympics.

(There is also, of course, the delightful prospect of the 2014 Commonwealth Games taking place in Glasgow between 23 July and 03 August!)

Much more information can be found at: www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/first-world-war-centenary