The First World War changed Britain forever. The conflict touched every family, affected every community and fundamentally altered our country’s place in the world. One hundred years on from the outbreak of war in 1914, this year we have a unique opportunity to mark this historic anniversary and to pay tribute to those who laid down their lives, and to reflect on the wider social changes that war brought about.
This year is the start of a four-year programme of local, national and international events to commemorate what took place between 1914 and 1918. The outbreak of war falls on 4 August, when the whole country is expected to commemorate the events from a century ago.
This provides us with an important opportunity to pay tribute to the service and sacrifice of those who paid the ultimate price both in that conflict and in others since to help protect the freedoms we all enjoy today.
We should also reflect upon the social change brought about by war. The First World War fundamentally shifted social attitudes and changed how people all over Britain lived and worked together. Before 1914 most working men or no women had a vote, but this would soon change. The role of women also changed forever as women took on jobs that were previously seen as a male preserve.
It is hugely important we mark the centenary in a fitting manner. Communities across the country are coming together to mark and commemorate these historic events. This is an opportunity not only to recognise the impact that the First World War had on our area but to engage local people of all ages in our shared history.
A number of grants are currently being offered by the Heritage Lottery Fund to support local communities in commemorating the centenary. Grants are available from £3,000 to over £100,000, with hundreds of grants having already been awarded.
Examples of projects range from renovating local war memorials, to exploring what life was like on the Home Front or learning how a local institution was affected during the war. Case studies with more ideas for projects and events, along with full details of how to apply for a grant, can be found on the Heritage Lottery Fund’s website at: www.hlf.org.uk/HowToApply/whatwefund/FirstWorldWar/Pages/FirstWorldWar.aspx