August 2014 marked the centenary of the start of the First World War. Since then the Council and Inspiring healthy lifestyles have been committed to delivering a four-year commemorative programme to remember those that fought and lost their lives across Cannock Chase District.
Most recently, the Council secured funding from the Armed Forces Covenant Fund to help fund a specially commissioned play called `The Last Day`, hold ceremonies including the lighting of a beacon sculpture, and produce a digital toolkit to help education groups and residents understand the District’s role during the war and how it has been commemorating the 100th anniversary between 2014 and 2018.
Inspiring healthy lifestyles submitted the application on behalf of the District’s WW1 Working Group, a collaboration of local Armed Forces’ organisations and branches such as Staffordshire Regimental Association, local arts group members of Cannock Chase Arts Council and Cannock Chase Council.
The group has worked hard over the last four years to engage with local businesses, creative individuals and groups to provide events and activities for local communities to support and participate in.
Among these was `The Great War Marches` in 2014 which saw local towns develop parades and services involving hundreds of serving personnel, veterans, military organisations and the wider community.
In 2015 a District-wide story gathering initiative toured across sheltered housing providers to hear from people whose relations experienced the Great War period, while in 2016 a ‘Four Winters at War’ outdoor performance was held at Birches Valley and a special `Stepping into Wartime` event was held in Hednesford.
In 2017, a special Armed Forces Day event was organised in Cannock which was a great way to honour the local armed forces community as well as commemorating the war.
Recently, on the weekend of 10 and 11 November, the District marked the 100th year anniversary for the end of the First World War with a special service and beacon lighting ceremony at St Luke’s Church in Cannock, remembrance services and parades across the District, a tour of the ‘Last Day Legacy – Great War Exhibition’, and presented performances of ‘The Last Day’ at Cannock, Rugeley and Hednesford.
As a lasting legacy to this commemorative period, the Council in partnership with Inspiring healthy lifestyles has developed an educational toolkit which is available to access at www.cannockchasedc.gov.uk/cannockchaseremembers.
These special web pages provide information on local campaigns and events commemorating World War 1 which will be of interest to everyone and not just educational groups. It is also a great way for family, friends and survivors to share their own memories of wartime and is well worth visiting and spending some time having a look at.