Folkestone will take centre stage next August as the country pays its respects to the fallen, 100 years on from the start of the First World War.
News that the unveiling of the town’s commemorative arch on The Leas will form a major part of the country’s commemorations has been welcomed by Step Short, the charity which is leading the project.
With a big national media presence expected at the unveiling ceremony and military parade on 4 August, 2014, the event will raise awareness of Folkestone and the its historic role as the stopping-off point for up to ten million soldiers on their way to the Western Front
The Department for Culture, Media & Sport has declared that the unveiling of the arch will be given national event status alongside religious services at Glasgow, Westminster Abbey, Belfast and Mons.
The imposing stainless steel arch, which includes a timeline of the 1914-18 conflict, has an educational theme and will be unveiled 100 years on from the day the British Empire joined the conflict that was to cost so many lives.
Step Short hopes that the arch will inspire significant interest in Folkestone as the town which, for so many people, marked the start of their war. The arch is likely to encourage some of the many thousands of visitors who currently tour First World War battlefields in northern Europe to spend time in the town as part of their trip.
Meanwhile other educational themes are being pursued by Step Short, which has arranged for the National Army Museum to bring a unique, ten month-long exhibition on Folkestone’s home front to Folkestone Town Hall from July next year through to May 2015.
Step Short, which is continuing to raise funds towards the cost of the project from local people and organisations, will be transforming the Tram Road visitor centre into an education resource.
The initiatives are all part of Step Short’s aim of increasing awareness, particularly amongst young people, of the war and the sacrifice made by the millions of soldiers who passed through the town between 1914 and 1918.
The DCMS information booklet here highlight’s Step Short’s importance in the national programme of 2014 events.