Suffolk/Essex: Hi-tech and history combine to honour First World War heroes awarded the Victoria Cross
- Credit: PA
Their heroic feats of bravery during the First World War warranted the most prestigious military award for gallantry possible.
Now, as the Great War’s centenary approaches, hundreds of Victoria Cross (VC) recipients, including many from East Anglia, are to be honoured on special paving stones commemorating their deeds of valour.
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles and VC recipient Sergeant Johnson Beharry yesterday unveiled the stone’s winning design, after a competition drew large numbers of entries from across the nation.
“It was an honour to reveal the winning design that will take pride of place in our communities and enable people of all ages to appreciate the sacrifices of the fallen brave,” Mr Pickles said.
“I was incredibly impressed with the variety of excellent entries that were submitted for the competition.
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“It was fantastic that so many were from young people who could use this as an opportunity to learn about the First World War and the legacy that it has had on their local communities.”
Suffolk servicemen, from Ipswich, Copdock, Kirkley, Lowestoft, Theberton and Stowmarket, and a soldier from Norfolk who went to Framlingham College are among those set to be honoured with paving stones, along with recipients from Essex.
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Winning entrant Charlie MacKeith’s design, which seeks to “make one pause and remember”, will be set in stone in more than 400 communities using material, form and lettering of the family memorials chosen by the War Graves Commission.
He said: “It is humbling to think that the making and laying of this design will continue until 100 years after the last selfless, heroic act in conflict.
“The name I used for the stone design – Private William Young VC, identified by Preston veterans –summarised for me the humanity we will find in all the stories of those who served in the First World War.”
Judges including the author Sebastian Faulks, Dame Helen Ghosh and Lord Ashcroft, the owner of the largest collection of Victoria Cross medals, said they were impressed with the circular design’s simple elegance. “This was a truly splendid crop of designs, many of which showed that their creators had put massive effort into their submissions,” said Lord Ashcroft.
The paving stones, whose location will be decided by local authorities, will also incorporate an electronic reader, which smartphone owners can use to access more information about their local Victoria Cross recipients.