THE organiser of an appeal to raise money for three new war memorials for Henley’s “forgotten” servicemen has praised the local community for its support.
The Lest We Forget project must raise £3,200 in order to receive an £8,200 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The money will fund the memorials in the town hall and at Holy Trinity Church and St Mary’s Church in time to commemorate the centenary of the beginning of the First World War on August 4.
More than half the £3,200 has been raised and organiser Mike Willoughby, 66, said: “I am very privileged because it was my hobby and it has turned into a Henley community project with an immense amount of backing and support and enthusiasm.
“It has put Henley way ahead of the game as far as centenary commemoration planning goes. The money is steadily coming in and it’s amazing what the people of Henley have come up with so far.” Money so far has come from donations from Lord Camoys of Stonor and Sir William McAlpine, who owns the Fawley Hill estate.
Higgs Group, publisher of the Henley Standard, has donated £500.
The Henley World War One Remembrance Association, to which Mr Willoughby belongs, applied to the Lottery for about 70 per cent of the cost of the memorials so the community can become involved by contributing the rest. Mr Willoughby, from Woodcote, said the refurbishment of War Memorial Place, off Harpsden Way, had been added to the scheme. The houses there are on the site of the old war memorial hospital.
He said: “There are actually three stones set in the walls but they’re unreadable.”
The land for the hospital was donated by a local bank manager whose son, Captain Arthur John Walker, of the Yorkshire Regiment, was killed in action on August 7, 1915, aged 19.
Mr Willoughby said the Lottery project was launched in November last year and would run until November 2015 but after this the scheme would continue for another couple of years.
The three plaques will feature the names of about 300 men, of whom about a third have not been commemorated previously.
It is hoped that Tim Stevenson, the Lord Lieutenant of Oxfordshire, will unveil the town hall memorial at a service on August 3.