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Volunteers needed for Somme artwork

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Public’s help is sought to create a tribute to commemorate the sacrifice of the first day of the battle of Somme, reports Asian Lite News

The National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire is appealing for the public’s help in creating a unique tribute to the 19,240 British soldiers who lost their lives on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.

A total of 19,240 wooden soldiers, approximately 12 inches tall, have been created and each one needs to be personalised with images, messages, poetry and paint so it can become part of Somme 100 En Masse – a giant art installation at the Arboretum.

Arboretum Artists in Residence, Julie Edwards and Ron Thompson, of ‘Planet Art’ – a Midlands-based company, which specialises in public artworks – are appealing for schools, families and individuals in the UK and France to help. unnamed

Around 750 soldiers have been painted so far and the first one was put in place by Lewis Holmes, a fourteen-year-old pupil at John Port School, Etwall, Derbyshire, whose great grandfather, George Edwards, fought in the Battle of the Somme.

Aged just 17, George lied about his age in order to join up and tales of his heroism in battle have been passed down through his family. George was eventually invalided out after frostbite claimed his toes and he went on to work for British Rail for 45 years and Burton Technical College for a further 10 years.  He passed away in 1998, shortly before his 101st birthday.

Members of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, which merged with the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, have taken some of the wooden soldiers with them to the Somme and will decorate them during a Battle of the Somme commemorative event.

The soldiers, which have been cut by David Williamson, owner of ‘Cut Profiles’ in Coventry, will be decorated using a stencil on the front kindly donated by Mid Therm laser in Dudley, whilst the reverse can be personalised by visitors wishing to leave their own tribute.

The Arboretum and Planet Art are also providing special kits for groups and schools containing the cut-out soldiers, complete with a stencil, paint, pencils and collage materials so those unable to physically participate on site can still contribute.

All the soldiers will be put in place over the next few months as part of the Arboretum’s five-month programme of inspirational events and activities to commemorate the centenary of the Battle of the Somme. Sarah Montgomery, Managing Director of the Arboretum, said: “We are proud to host this unique and striking tribute to the thousands of British soldiers killed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme. “The project will enable all kinds of people to get involved and to remember particular individuals if they wish, by including messages, pictures, poetry and photography in their designs.”