Years of planning, hard work and fund-raising came to fruition when the Step Short charity’s impressive commemorative arch on The Leas at Folkestone was craned into position.
It took a team of experts most of the day to finish the painstaking task under the guidance of Lend Lease, the international construction company that has donated its project management skills to the arch installation, and the final result was stunning.
The arch, shining in the midsummer sunshine, has been erected in tribute to the millions of men and women who passed through Folkestone on their way to and from the western front during the 1914-18 conflict.
It remembers nurses and civilians as well as all the soldiers from many nations, many of whom would have heard the order “Step Short” as they prepared to descend the steeply-sloping Road of Remembrance – then known as Slope Road.
Member of Parliament and Step Short chairman Damian Collins was one of the first to pay tribute to the value of the arch in raising awareness of Folkestone’s vital role in the First World War, while vice-chairman Ann Berry and finance director Paul Emden watched much of the construction work during the day.
Also on hand to show his support for the project was Shepway District Council leader David Monk, who backed the council’s decision to commit £200,000 in support of the scheme. He said the arch would be a long-standing reminder of the debt the town and country owed all those who fought.
The arch, just one part of a wide-ranging programme of educational initiatives driven by Step Short, will be dedicated by His Royal Highness Prince Henry of Wales during a parade on Monday 4 August.