'Heroes Of Chiswick' World War One Project

Heritage Lottery awards ten thousand pounds to trace local stories


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A local vicar has called on the community to become involved in a project to discover the stories of locals who died during the First World War. Heritage Lottery has announced £10,000 worth of funding to St. Michael's Church, Elmwood Road, to help trace the stories of parishioners who died in the War.

The grant was awarded through HLF’s First World War: then and now programme.

With the centenary of the outbreak of war approaching next year, the Rev Martine Oborne wants to find out more about the twenty-three young men whose names are listed on two pillars and the stained glass memorial windows in the church.

She hopes to expand the 'Heroes of Chiswick' project out into the wider community to find out how the War affected the locality, from the young men who died in battle, to individuals and families who lived in Chiswick throughout 1914-1918.

Volunteers will use museums, reference libraries and other sources to collect photographs, newspaper clippings, documents, letters and other information on the men’s lives and how they came to die. The findings will also be produced in book and internet form and hopefully, a pop-up travelling exhibition.

"We always say on Remembrance Sunday that 'we will remember them' but I feel we've lost the stories of these people. I'd love for people to get involved in finding out more about these individuals who lived in Chiswick and whose names are remembered but whose stories are not", she commented.

When war broke out the vicar of St. Michael's left the parish to become an Army chaplain and the churchwarden Charles Coombs had to take charge of church duties. He lost two sons in the war. One of the stained glass windows in the church is in memory of the Boys of Gunnersbury School (now Falcon's School for Boys) many of whom died at the Battle of the Somme or at Gallipoli.

The Heritage Lottery funding will also help towards employing a Project Manager who will go into schools and archives to further research into the subject.

Rev Oborne wants schools, archives, libraries, and all sectors of the community, young and old, to engage in the project. "If people have memories of stories handed down that they would like to share, we would love to hear from them. We'd also like to hear about how the war impacted on people's lives in Chiswick."

Anyone who is interested in the project, or who has information to share can contact : vicar@stmichael-suttoncourt.org.uk

Sue Bowers, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund London, said: “The First World War changed the face of modern history touching the lives of everyone in this country and beyond.  HLF has committed to funding a variety of projects, from organisations large and small, that will create a deeper understanding of the heritage of the conflict. Some of these will capture the memories of individual soldiers, regiments or families, some will restore local war memorials, whilst others like Heroes of Chiswick, will seek out the stories of those who gave their lives."

 St. Michael’s Parish was formed just over 100 years ago, only a few years before the outbreak of the First World War, to serve the rapidly growing suburban population of Chiswick. The Parish now has a population of some 4,000 people and is a diverse community. St Michael’s Church Elmwood Road has a thriving Choir and Youth Club and its Community Centre is used by hundreds of people every week.

Through its First World War: then and now programme, HLF is making at least £1million available per year for six years until 2019. It will provide grants between £3,000 and £10,000 enabling communities and groups right across the UK to explore, conserve and share their First World War heritage and deepen their understanding of the impact of the conflict.

To find out how to apply for funding visit www.hlf.org.uk/thenandnow. If a group needs a grant of more than £10,000 for a First World War project, it can apply to HLF through its open programmes www.hlf.org.uk/firstworldwar


October 4, 2013

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