Lord Faulkner of Worcester raises profile of 100th anniversary of First World War in the House of Lords

Evesham Journal: (7588169) (7588169)

A WORCESTER peer raised the profile of the centenary of the First World War and the sacrifices of Worcestershire soldiers when he spoke in the House of Lords.

Lord Faulkner of Worcester, who recently visited the city's Commonwealth War Graves with city MP Robin Walker, stressed the importance of commemorating the war during a speech in the Lords on Wednesday.

The Labour peer, appointed chairman of the War Heritage All-Party Group in 2011, wrote to Prime Minister David Cameron at the time over concerns the UK was not as prepared to mark the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the war as other countries.

He said in the House of Lords on Wednesday: "That letter seemed to have some effect because, very soon after, I got a reply from Mr Cameron and Dr Murrison was appointed. Quite soon after that, the Government’s advisory board on the World War I centenary commemoration was established and I am very proud to be serving on it."

The Labour peer also referred to Commonwealth War Graves, of which there are140 war graves in Worcester’s main Astwood Cemetery, 33 in St John’s Cemetery and seven in the churchyard of Claines, St John the Baptist Church.

He said: "Another initiative that I commend to your Lordships is the one in which my all-party group has played a major part. I am referring to the efforts of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the In From The Cold voluntary organisation to map war graves in each parliamentary constituency in the United Kingdom. Between us, we have been encouraging local MPs and Peers not only to visit them but to engage with the local community and schools so that they understand the significance of these graves, the impact of world wars and the continuing importance of remembrance.

"If your Lordships will allow me to stay in my own county of Worcester for a moment, I would like to commend what is known as the Worcestershire World War One Hundred project, which was one of the very first to attract a major Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £353,000 towards a total cost of £675,000. This is being led by Dr Adrian Gregson, head of the county’s archive and archaeology service and Worcester city councillor. The project has brought together the widest range of local organisations, including all the major museums, the University of Worcester, the cathedral, the Worcestershire regimental associations and many more."

Lord Faulkner also referred to a commemoration event on October 31 to mark the centenary of the stand by the 2nd Battalion The Worcestershire Regiment at the Battle of Gheluvelt. and Reverend Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy, better known as "Woodbine Willie" who will have a special place in a service in Worcester Cathedral.

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