A World War One commemorative project, based in North Tyneside, has been given the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service – the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.
The Tynemouth World War One Commemoration Project was established in 2010 to recognise the significant sacrifice made in the former Borough of Tynemouth during the war.
The initial aim of the project was to research and create a lasting data-base of all those who were lost on land, at sea or in the air based on the original Tynemouth Roll of Honour compiled between 1919 and 1923.
The Roll initially had 1,700 entries and through the work of the project many of their stories were researched and over 250 more names were added.
It is estimated that more than 100 volunteers and supporters have been involved in the project and it is thought to be the largest project of its kind in the country.
The project received significant funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund under the ‘Your Heritage’ grant scheme.
In addition to the database, the project also inspired a wide- ranging programme of activities and initiatives including: a much respected casualty map of the borough, an award-winning play - Death at Dawn, commemorative services and concerts, a series of academic lectures in conjunction with Northumbria University as well as talks by local historians.
A memorial garden at the Linskill Centre in North Shields has been established as well as work with local school children, a CD of WWI songs, a number of publications, a series of commemorative blue plaques on houses across the borough and a commemorative beer, Tyneside Tommy, from the Three Kings Brewery.
Ken Wilson, Chairman of the project said: “We are delighted that the project has been recognised in this way. It is a testament to the amazing contribution and dedication of our volunteers who have done so much to make the project such a success. I would like to congratulate them all on this honour and also dedicate the award to those relatives who contributed the stories of their family members.”
Alan Fidler, founder and co-ordinator of the project added: “From a single objective to provide a fitting tribute to the generation who gave their lives for their country, to national recognition in the form of the Queen’s Award, is a wonderful achievement. I would like to add my thanks and congratulations to all of those who have supported the project and who have each ensured that we never forget the huge sacrifice made during the war and the significant impact this had at the time on thousands of families across the borough.”
Sir Martyn Lewis, The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service Committee Chair and former broadcast journalist said: “I warmly congratulate all of the inspirational voluntary groups who have been rewarded for their community work with a Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. The judging panel for this year’s awards was struck by the quality and breadth of all the successful groups. The thousands of volunteers who give up spare time to help others in their community and to help solve problems demonstrates the very best of democracy in action.”
The Project will be presented with the award at a ceremony later in the year by the Lord Lieutenant.
The Project has now been extended and re-named as the Northumbria World War One Commemoration Project which will include other areas such as Wallsend, Whitley Bay, Killingworth and the former mining communities.
The project’s Twitter feed recently passed 2,700 followers – this goes out to academics, museums, universities, schools, special interest groups and many well-known individuals with a special interest in the Great War. Follow the project on Twitter - @NorthumbriaWW1