It’s hard to imagine, but one hundred years ago this year, the horrific events that started World War One began. Poetry, songs and novels have helped to recognise the battles that were fought over the four year period, and the sacrifices that were made.
Throughout the country, including the South, South-West and Wales, events will be taking place to remember the outbreak of the Great War.
The South West in particular has benefited from 14-18 NOW, the official cultural programme for the First World War Centenary for cultural and artistic events marking the anniversary, and supported with £5million of lottery funding from Arts Council England. Here are just a few of the events taking place:
• Battle Lines: a trilogy of short plays, inspired by real local stories, will tour Hampshire in March and April.
• Landmark Trees: a collaboration of youth organisations, professional artists and young composers taking place during Ryde Arts Festival 27 June – 7 July.
• Gone but not Forgotten: a dance and heritage project, in Petersfield, Hampshire on 20 July.
• Will Harvey’s War: world premiere at Cheltenham Everyman Theatre of a brand new adaptation of famous war poet Harvey’s unpublished novel Will Harvey’s War running from 30 July to 2 August.
• Cicatrix: a visual arts project starting in Trowbridge and touring to Salisbury.
• Bristol 2014: the city has a planned programme of commemoration with events throughout the summer and autumn.
Outdoor events are being held across the land: the splendid setting of Blenheim Palace will be playing host to an interactive WWI exhibition, A Great Estate at War — Land, Sea and Air, which ends on 21 April 2014. Make a day of it to hear about bravery and comradery on the front line, and learn about the ‘flying cousins’, relations of the Marlborough family who bravely served in the Royal Flying Corps. Having served its purpose throughout the war years as a field hospital, the Long Library, transformed into a field hospital for the war, will be set up to recreate how it would have looked.
If you want something more in depth, take advantage of the touring performance of Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks, 12 February to 5 July 2014 at Eastbourne, Cheltenham, Worthing, Mold, Bury St. Edmunds, Winchester, Exeter and Swindon amongst other places. This story of a young man sent to war is passionate and thought provoking and gives an insight into how the lives of European youths were changed forever.
Swansea is marking the occasion by encouraging schools, community groups and and residents to plant thousands of poppies which are expected to bloom to coincide with the anniversary of the announcement of the outbreak of war in 1914, August 4th.
“Many Swansea people died on foreign battlefields in World War One and many more will have suffered from the hardships of war at home,” said Swansea council leader Cllr David Phillips. “They made those sacrifices so that generations to come could enjoy the freedom that we all cherish and sometimes take for granted nowadays. This is why it’s so important that Swansea remembers. Other events this summer include exhibitions at both Swansea Museum and Swansea Central Library.
There will be numerous other events taking place throughout the country, and for those who are planning to host an event or provide food, then now is the time to make sure that your equipment is in full working order, including your Rational oven. AC Services supports all the events that are taking place in the centenary year. A large proportion of the country will be out in the summer, remembering and supporting the memory of WWI – if you are catering for them, be prepared.