Top award for war project

Alan Fidler, founder and co-ordinator of the Tynemouth World War One Commemoration Project.

Alan Fidler, founder and co-ordinator of the Tynemouth World War One Commemoration Project.

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A project remembering local First World War heroes has won a top award.

The Tynemouth World War One Commemoration Project has been given the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service – the highest award given to a voluntary group in the UK.

Just some of the scouts who worked on the memorial garden at the Linskill Centre.

Just some of the scouts who worked on the memorial garden at the Linskill Centre.

The project was established in 2010 to recognise the significant sacrifice made in the former Borough of Tynemouth during the war.

It set out to research and create a lasting database of all those lost during the war, based on the original Tynemouth Roll of Honour.

And thanks to the work of more than 100 volunteers and supporters, more than 250 names have been added to the 1,700 on the roll.

The project also inspired a wide-ranging programme of activities and initiatives including a casualty map of the borough, award-winning play Death at Dawn, commemorative services and concerts, a series of academic lectures and talks by local historians.

A memorial garden at the Linskill Centre in North Shields has been established as well as work with local school children, a CD of WWI songs, a number of publications, a series of commemorative blue plaques on houses across the borough and a commemorative beer.

Ken Wilson, chairman of the project, said: “We are delighted that the project has been recognised in this way.

“It is a testament to the amazing contribution and dedication of our volunteers who have done so much to make the project such a success.

“I would like to congratulate them all on this honour and also dedicate the award to those relatives who contributed the stories of their family members.”

Alan Fidler, founder and co-ordinator of the project, added: “From a single objective to provide a fitting tribute to the generation who gave their lives for their country, to national recognition in the form of the Queen’s Honours Award, is a wonderful achievement.

“I would like to add my thanks and congratulations to all of those who have supported the project and who have each ensured that we never forget the huge sacrifice made during the war.”

Former editor of the News Guardian and now a content editor with Johnston Press, Ian Arkle, said: “This recognition is more than well deserved.

“The volunteers, led by Alan, have done a wonderful job in creating an impressive online resource detailing the human sacrifice and impact the First World War had on our community.

“When Alan first approached me a good 18 months before the anniversary of the outbreak of the conflict requesting the News Guardian’s support with the project, I looked upon it as a duty to give our full backing.

“But never for one moment did I envisage the scale of the task he was putting upon himself. The project has grown and matured beyond all expectations, and all those involved should be proud of their achievements.

“The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service is richly deserved, and the News Guardian has been honoured to play a role in the project’s success.”

The project will receive the award later in the year.

Sir Martyn Lewis, The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service Committee Chair and former broadcast journalist, said: “I warmly congratulate all of the inspirational voluntary groups who have been rewarded for their community work with a Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.

“The judging panel for this year’s awards was struck by the quality and breadth of all the successful groups.

“The thousands of volunteers who give up spare time to help others in their community and to help solve problems demonstrates the very best of democracy in action.”

The Project has now been extended and re-named as the Northumbria World War One Commemoration Project which will include other areas such as Wallsend, Whitley Bay, Killingworth and the former mining communities.

More information can be found via www.northumbriaworldwarone.co.uk