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Centenary sparks community into starting memorial project

Elisabeth Haddow, parish councillor Celia Lewis,  Sgt Paul  Erskine and Jamie Erskine, both from the Sea Cadet Corp and Parish Council Chairman Tom Scott.

Elisabeth Haddow, parish councillor Celia Lewis, Sgt Paul Erskine and Jamie Erskine, both from the Sea Cadet Corp and Parish Council Chairman Tom Scott.

A north Northumberland community is marking the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War by unveiling its new war memorial.

Residents in Shilbottle have long mentioned to their parish councillors about the lack of a war memorial in the village.

A Roll of Honour had taken pride of place in the reading room of the Shilbottle Institute. and when it closed, the roll was moved to St James’ Church.

In 2000, the Shilbottle and Hampeth Action Group secured funding for a Memorial Garden to transform an eyesore area which housed an obsolete electricity sub-station.

Working with the parish council and local schoolchildren, an area to remember the miners of both Shilbottle and Whittle was created, becoming a central feature in Shilbottle.

And this year, the journey is set to be completed as a war memorial is dedicated to those who lost their lives in the great conflicts of the 20th century.

Interestingly, it is believed that the village did have memorials in the past, but nobody seems to know what happened to them. The first was erected by the Reverend Percy Lee in 1917 and featured three sides covered with the names of serving men and the fourth side left blank. Another, erected by the Duke of Northumberland in 1921, was located at the old Shilbottle pit, Longdyke.

But with 2014 marking 100 years since the start of the First World War, a committee was set up to work on the project.

Initially featuring councillors and the Reverend Martin Gilham, the group has now expanded to feature representatives from groups in the village and beyond, including the Royal British Legion and the Northumberland Estates.

Schools want to get involved too and pupils will be included throughout the summer term.

“We have involved as many people as possible,” said Elisabeth Haddow, the committee’s secretary.

“We have got a really, really good group of people working hard. It’s been a really worthwhile community effort.”

It will culminate in a dedication ceremony and community celebration on Sunday, August 3 – Britain declared war on Germany on August 4, 1914 – attended by the Duke of Northumberland and featuring a piper and bugler, a fly-past from RAF Boulmer and other activities.

 

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