Sunday, 22 October 2017

Great War centenary exhibition to visit during 2015 regatta

AN exhibition marking the centenary of the start of the First World War is to come to Henley.

AN exhibition marking the centenary of the start of the First World War is to come to Henley.

Fields of Battle — Lands of Peace 14-18 will be staged in Mill Meadows for four weeks from the end of June 2015 as part of a national tour.

The exhibition will comprise a walk-on map and a series of photographic panels and will be free to visit 24 hours a day. There will also be a mobile information centre.

The display will not be based on the horrors of war but instead on how time and nature have healed the battlefields to create a link between the modern day and the personal dramas and stories the landscapes now hide.

The Fields of Battle 14-18 charity, which is a partner in the First World War Centenary programme led by the Imperial War Museum, is seeking funding to stage the exhibition, which is to be launched in London in August next year and will then tour cities around the country until 2018.

Henley Poppy Appeal organiser Shirley Lees met the promoters to encourage the exhibition to visit the town.

In a report to the town council’s recreation and amenities committee, town clerk Mike Kennedy said the dates of the visit had been chosen to coincide with Henley Royal Regatta, so the maximum number of people could see the exhibition and the promoters would be encouraged to agree to come despite Henley being a small town.

He said: “This opportunity is normally open to cities across the UK so we are very privileged to be able to host this and I must congratulate Shirley Lees for all her work on this. She has been quite inspirational.

“There is no cost to the council unless the council chooses to create specific panels of Henley’s First World War experience. I am aware that there are grants available should the council wish to pursue that.

“The ideal location would be Falaise Square but the weekly charter market renders this space impracticable.

“Mindful of the requirement to make the exhibition free to all, day and night, an alternative location beside the towpath at Mill Meadows has been suggested.

“The promoters have given their assurance that grass is not a problem and that the riverside setting would work really well.”

Mr Kennedy said the exhibition was a “massive opportunity” for Henley to honour those who gave their lives in the Great War.

“Words simply can’t describe what this exhibition will represent,” he said. “There are panels of information which seeks to show how, over time, the battlefields have become something quite dramatic and special.”

Councillor Kellie Hinton said: “I am all for this. It is fantastic and at a great time of year provided it doesn’t involve the parks service team who have their hands full anyway.

“When the time comes I think we should go for some Henley panels even if we can’t get a grant.” Councillor David Silvester said: “It has been said he who cannot remember history is destined to make mistakes again. My father served in both world wars and I can’t speak highly enough of this opportunity.”

Mayor Stefan Gawrysiak said he would like there to be a Henley element to the exhibition.

Councillor Sam Evans added: “It is a fantastic honour for Henley to be included in this. I think it is a fantastic opportunity to get schoolchildren involved. The more interactive it is the more they learn.”

The committee approved the deal unanimously and asked Mr Kennedy to explore adding some information panels relating to Henley to the exhibition.

lUp to three new memorials dedicated to soldiers from the First World War could be erected in Henley after Mike Willoughby, an amateur historian from Woodcote, found more than 70 soldiers from the area whose names are missing from the town’s nine existing memorials.

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