Honour for war heroes

Thomas Kenny
Thomas Kenny

WAR heroes from the region are to be honoured with commemorative paving stones which will be laid in the home towns of all UK veterans who were awarded the Victoria Cross during the First World War.

The Government has announced the paving stones will be at the heart of a major programme to mark 100 years since the outbreak of the war, which claimed at least 15m lives.

John Youll

John Youll

A total of 18 will be installed across the North-East to honour the war heroes, including Thomas Kenny, of South Wingate and John Youll, of Thornley.

A national competition is to be held to design the stones, which will be unveiled between 2014 and 2018.

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 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.”

It has also been announced that the Government is also creating a website to help communities get funding to restore war memorials and there will be cultural events, candlelit vigils and a service of commemoration.

The centenary of Britain’s entry into the war will be marked on August 4 next year with a service of commemoration at Glasgow Cathedral for Commonwealth leaders and a ceremony at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission St Symphorien Military Cemetery in Mons, Belgium, where men believed to be the first and last Commonwealth casualties of the war are buried.

Meanwhile, a candlelit vigil will be held at Westminster Abbey with the last candle extinguished at 11pm – the moment war was declared.

The programme of events will also include two pupils and one teacher from every state-funded secondary school in England visiting the battlefields of the Western Front.

In our region there will also be a £400,000 project to mark the 100th anniversary of the First World War.

As previously reported, Hartlepool Borough Council is leading the project on behalf of five local authorities in Tees Valley after being awarded £394,775 from the Arts Council England’s Renaissance Strategic Support Fund.

It will pay for exhibitions, special events and commemorative performances over the next two years.