Centenary of the First World War: Our Legacy

Stuart Hobley is Development Manager for Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) in the East of England. In this blog he outlines the sort of projects that HLF is supporting along with steps your group can take to make an application for funds.

As we begin Centenary commemorations, it is clear that many local groups want to learn more about the First World War and how it changed their community. The impact of the war was far-reaching; in many cases tragic but often inspirational and a source of pride for communities across the East.

To help communities explore how the War shaped all aspects of life, we have a number of grant programmes that can provide essential funds to support research, displays, special events etc. – a whole variety of activity that will give everyone the opportunity to be involved in this legacy.

If you're looking for funding take a look at the Heritage Lottery Fund's website

If you’re looking for funding take a look at the Heritage Lottery Fund’s website

What is your community’s story?

Here at HLF I get to talk to so many different groups about a wide variety of project ideas; what’s clear to me is the shear breadth of themes and issues that you can explore. From the lives of soldiers to those left behind to those who objected. There were extraordinary advances in technology and in 1915, the Women’s Institute was created to help support the country. There was tremendous impact on our agricultural workforce and many new organisations were formed to support the wounded and disabled servicemen who returned.

And what speaks through all of this? The lives of those who witnessed this devastating conflict… Olive Edis, the photographer from Norfolk, employed by the National War Museum (better known to you and me now as the Imperial War Museum) to highlight the British Women’s Service; Lance Corporal Sidney Smith whose letters home were often annotated with cartoons and caricatures (and the letters themselves can be seen at Norwich Castle); or what about Inspector O’Connor who kept the streets of Bishop’s Stortford safe whilst the war raged overseas.

I’m learning about stories like this through projects we’re funding! We gave £10,000 to a group in Mersea, Essex to help people learn about fighter pilot Edgar Roberts, who would often fly out in the company of his beloved dog, Mick. A letter by Edgar was found in an old jar in 1988.. and now local children across Mersea Island are discovering even more about the War.

The lives of ordinary people who were testament to the most extraordinary events… if you are planning a project, think about the stories and people from your community. What is their story and how can you share this with others?

What sort of projects can get funding?

The projects we support deliver a whole range of activity. This could be communities working together to produce an exhibition; or young people producing a play based on historical information. We can help to fund websites, digitising records, photographs and ephemera; maybe you have something that needs conserving? We have helped to restore a whole array of existing dedications to the conflict, including war memorials, rolls of honour, and parish records.

All projects we support must help people, and wider range of people to understand and be involved with their heritage.

We even have a new grant programme called First World War Then & Now which offers grants of £3,000 to £10,000. This has been specifically developed to help local groups mark their First World War stories.

HLF can support not-for-profit groups and so far in the East of England, more than 50 projects have received funding; from restoring war memorials to using archive material to create drama. We’ve funded museums to help schools understand the impact  and supported villages to research and remember the fallen.

We want to see collaborative projects that bring communities together, especially those that help young people to understand the conflict.

How do I get started?

If you want to apply to HLF, the first thing to do is complete a project enquiry. This is a short form on our website; tell us what you want to do and how much money you think you need: we’ll then let you know if it is the sort of project we might fund. This is an effective way of getting advice and feedback from us before you apply.

We also have many good examples of funded projects on our website, along with helpful FAQs about different themes and issues. You can read these here:

www.hlf.org.uk/FirstWorldWar

Some helpful links!

So, if you want to get started why not see what other projects are doing? Some examples of other funded HLF projects can be found here:

www.hertsatwar.co.uk and www.toendallwars.co.uk

You can learn more about our grant programmes here:

http://www.hlf.org.uk/HowToApply/programmes/Pages/programmes.aspx

Not only that, but HLF is working in partnership with a new First World War Engagement Centre based at Hertfordshire University. They too will have a variety of useful resources and can help with research. Learn more about this here:

http://www.herts.ac.uk/heritage-hub/news/2014/everyday-lives-in-war-experience-and-memory-of-the-first-world-war

There are also many other helpful online resources including:

www.1914.org

http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/caring/first-world-war-home-front/

You can also follow us on twitter @HLFEoE and #understandingWW1

 

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