Grants for North East First World War projects

Projects to help young people in the North East understand and mark the centenary of the First World War have been given cash backing

The road from from Auchonvillers to Beaumont Hamel clogged with transports and heavy artillery, in the closing stages of the Somme campaign
The road from from Auchonvillers to Beaumont Hamel clogged with transports and heavy artillery, in the closing stages of the Somme campaign

Projects to help young people in the North East understand and mark the centenary of the First World War have been given cash backing.

YMCA North Tyneside and The Hermitage Academy in Chester-le-Street, County Durham, have received grants totalling £19,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

Awarded through HLF’s First World War: Then and Now programme, the funding will allow both organisations to launch projects involving local young people.

The first project, Wor War, was awarded £9,600 and will be led by local young people. They will explore the stories and experiences of young people who grew up during the conflict.

The YMCA will work with the Tynemouth World War One Commemoration Project and North Tyneside Age UK.

Young people will look into the heritage of the YMCA and its role during the war.

Using records and artefacts from Newcastle Discovery Museum, Beamish Museum and South Shields Museum, they will explore and record people’s memories. The project will culminate with a touring exhibition and a celebration event to showcase the recorded interviews, art work and photographs.

Don Irving, youth manager at YMCA North Tyneside, said “This is a particularly exciting initiative and staff and young people are looking forward to exploring to the effects the First World War had on the lives of children and young people.”

Alan Fidler, co-ordinator of the Tynemouth World War One Commemoration project, said: “We look forward to helping the project by giving access to the database of biographical information we are compiling about the nearly 2,000 men of Tynemouth and North Shields who were killed or died as result of their service in the Great War.

“The war also made several thousand children orphans at a time when provision for widowed women was limited and large families were common.”

It is hoped that work from the project will be exhibited at a commemorative event in Northumberland Square in North Shields, in August, 2014 only yards from the town’s YMCA building, which was funded by the Sir James Knott Trust.

British troops waiting to attack Beaumont Hamel in a support trench during the preliminary bombardment, 1st July 1916
British troops waiting to attack Beaumont Hamel in a support trench during the preliminary bombardment, 1st July 1916
 

Tyneside ship owner Sir James Knott made the YMCA gesture in memory of his two sons lost in the war, who were born in North Shields.

The second project, Our History – A Shared Belonging and a Community United, was awarded £9,400. The year-long project centres on Chester-le-Street and the impact the war had on the community. Young people will explore the backgrounds of the people who fought, lived and survived the war.

They will take an overseas educational trip including visiting the Ypres Salient, the Menin Gate, and Flanders Field Museum where they will be able to better understand and find out about those who lost their lives on the battlefields in France and Belgium.

This will lead to an exhibition that will tour local schools, libraries and c churches telling the stories they have collected.

Paul Welch, manager of history at the Hermitage Academy, said: “This project will inspire young people to gain a greater sense of local identity by researching and uncovering stories about inspiring individuals who make the ultimate sacrifice.

“Visiting the battlefields in France and Belgium is a profound educational experience, even more so if you have researched the individual stories of men from the towns and villages of the North of England who rest in peace there.

“By engaging less privileged young people with local history we hope to enable them to gain a sense of understanding of the war and its local impact”

Ivor Crowther, head of the HLF in the North East, said: “The impact of the First World War was far reaching, touching and shaping every corner of the UK and beyond.

“With our new small grants programme, we are enabling even more communities like those involved in both of these important projects to explore the continuing legacy of this conflict and help local young people in particular to broaden their understanding of how it has shaped our modern world.”

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