Heritage Lottery Fund unveils small grants programme to help commemorate First World War

By Richard Moss | 15 May 2013

The Heritage Lottery Fund has announced a new £6 million small grants programme to help communities mark the Centenary of the First World War.

a photo of soldiers boarding buses
British troops boarding modified buses at Arras (1917)© IWM
First World War: then and now will see £1 million made available each year for six years until 2019 via small grants ranging from £3,000 to £10,000. The awards will enable communities to conserve and share their First World War heritage and develop projects that improve understanding of the conflict.

They will focus on the identification, recording and preservation of local heritage and the creation of community archives or collections, as well as exhibitions, trails, smartphone apps and creative material such as plays and music based on heritage sources.

The idea is to create what the Culture Secretary Maria Miller described as an "enduring cultural and educational legacy for communities”.

“The HLF grant programme announced today will play a big part in this, and builds on the substantial investment they have already made towards the Centenary," added the minister.

Projects seeking to preserve war memorials are also eligible for the grants programme, which has been backed by Sebastian Faulks, the novelist, broadcaster and member of the Government’s First World War Centenary advisory group.

Faulks said they were “an opportunity for every street, town or village to make sure they remember the cataclysmic events of a hundred years ago”.

“It is a chance to learn and to commemorate in whatever way they choose.''

a photo of a First World War soldier being greeted at the door of a cootage by his mother
A soldier and his mother.© IWM
The announcement comes on the back of the £12 million in Lottery money already invested in projects commemorating the First World War.

They include a short film made by young people about the devastating effect of the war on the families of the men of the Accrington Pals Battalion, many of whom lost their lives in the attack on the village of Serre during the first day of the Battle of the Somme in summer 1916.

Other projects include a volunteer-led research project in Huddersfield into the impact of the war on the local Rugby club, a Liverpool-based scheme investigating the stories of black soldiers and an investigation in the Wyle Valley, in Wiltshire, into the vast army camps that were set up there to train soldiers to fight in France.

In Derry-Londonderry, the Diamond War Memorial project has revealed how the men commemorated on the city’s war memorial were from both Unionist and Nationalist backgrounds.

“The impact of the First World War was far reaching, touching and shaping every corner of the UK and beyond," said Dame Jenny Abramsky, the Chair of the Fund.

“The Heritage Lottery Fund’s new programme will enable communities to explore the continuing legacy of this war and help young people in particular to broaden their understanding of how it has shaped our modern world.”

The awards are part of the wider panorama of First World War centenary commemorations revealed by the government in 2012, including the £35 million refurbishment of the First World War galleries at the Imperial War Museum (IWM) in London.

Together with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the HLF, the museum is helping to co-ordinate projects throughout the UK between 2014 and 2019.

Community Groups with a project idea to mark the Centenary of the First World War, can find out more at hlf.org.uk/ThenAndNow.