WWII Remembered As Their Past Your Future Launches Across UK

By David Prudames | 17 February 2005
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Shows a photograph of three WWII veterans standing outside the Imperial War Museum in London.

Veterans Mr Blake, Harry Verlander, Reginald Maurice Rowbotham outside the Imperial War Museum in London.

A series of events, activities and exhibitions commemorating the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War is underway following the launch of the Their Past Your Future exhibition.

Part of the lottery-funded Veterans Reunited programme, Their Past Your Future is a £10 million UK-wide education scheme that explores issues such as commemoration, conflict, citizenship and the enduring impact of WWII 60 years on.

At the core of the project is an exhibition put together by the Imperial War Museum that opened at nine locations around the UK on February 17, from Bluewater Shopping Centre in Kent to the Royal Ulster Rifles Museum in Belfast.

Focussed around personal stories, the exhibition looks at how wartime changed individuals’ lives and how people remember those they lost. Altogether it will visit over 70 venues in 2005.

"The exhibition will encourage younger generations to understand and appreciate the significance of the Second World War through shared learning with veterans," said Veteran’s Minister, Ivor Caplin MP who attended launches in Belfast and Merthyr Tydfil.

Shows a photograph looking down a line of seated people, some of whom are wearing rows of medals and military insignia.

Their Past Your Future is a chance for younger generations to learn about what happened from those who lived through it.

"This is a unique opportunity for people across the country to experience this important exhibition and increase awareness in society of veterans’ contributions to the freedom we enjoy today."

Funded by the Big Lottery Fund and organised by a partnership of the Imperial War Museum, the Ministry of Defence and the Department for Education and Skills, the exhibition will be on show at the opening nine venues until March 20.

It is hoped that around three million people will see the display as it tours the country throughout the year, taking in venues such as Newcastle’s Discovery Museum and Cardiff’s Old Library.

In Scotland, Their Past Your Future is being organised by the Scottish Museums Council and was officially launched at Clydebank Town Hall, one of the few buildings left standing after the infamous Clydebank Blitz of 1941. In just two days the population of the town dropped from 50,000 to 10,000 and only 7 out of 12,000 buildings in the area were left undamaged.

Clydebank Town Hall became a symbol for survival, so it was fitting that it should be the first venue to host Their Past Your Future Scotland.

Shows a photograph of a veteran standing in front of a military vehicle outside the Imperial War Museum.

Britain's youngest Second World War veteran, Maurice Jones outside the Imperial War Museum in London.

"We are delighted to be launching Their Past Your Future Scotland from Clydebank Town Hall," said Joanne Orr, Director of the Scottish Museums Council. "The importance of the programme cannot be underestimated; the lessons to be learned from the Second World War apply to all generations in all communities throughout Scotland, the rest of the UK and the world."

Their Past Your Future is one of three schemes being funded through the Veterans Reunited programme, which includes Heroes Return, a £10 million initiative to provide funding for WWII veterans to visit overseas areas where they served.

It also includes Home Front Recall, which provides grants to fund activities across the UK to commemorate the part played in WWII by those on the home front.

For more information about Their Past Your Future in England, Wales and Northern Ireland pay the website a visit, or logon to www.scotlandswar.info for information about events in Scotland.

The opening tour venues in full:

  • Bluewater Shopping Centre - Kent
  • Action Stations - Portsmouth Historic Dockyard
  • Blackburn Museum and Art Galleries - Blackburn
  • Bletchley Park National Codes Centre - Bletchley Park
  • Forest of Mercia Innovation Centre - Chasewater Country Park, Staffordshire
  • Rhyd-Y-Car Leisure Centre - Rhyd-Y-Car, Merthyr Tydfil
  • Clydebank Town Hall - Clydebank
  • Royal Ulster Rifles Museum - Belfast.
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