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Paving stones to commemorate WWI Victoria Cross heroes

28 January 2014
The overall winning design at the top with the schools winners underneath it.

Scout Moor Yorkstone paving slabs like the one pictured on the right are to be placed outside what were the homes of soldiers who were awarded the Victoria Cross for their bravery in World War I on the 100th anniversary of the presentation of the Awards as part of the centenary commemoration of World War I that begins next year.

The winning designs from primary and secondary schools on the far right were made by Brent Stevenson Memorials in Blackpool and the overall winning design was made by Marshalls Stone Masons.
Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government, unveiled the winning design last month (November).

The paving stones will be placed outside the homes where the soldiers awarded the medals had lived before going to war. The aim is to install the stones over the next four years, which are the 100th anniversary of the war, on the days the medals were awarded.

Charlie MacKeith from London was announced as the winner of the main paving stone competition. His circular design has an impact that is immediately recognisable. It seeks to "make one pause and remember", as the entry submission said, using the form and lettering of the family of memorials used by the War Graves Commission.

It impressed the judges with its simple and elegant qualities, while being suitable to be replicated for all branches of the armed forces.

It will be set in more than 400 communities across the United Kingdom to commemorate those First World War soldiers who were awarded the Victoria Cross for valour in the face of the enemy.

A total of 363 Victoria Crosses were awarded to English-born servicemen, 44 to Scots and 15 to the Welsh; 32 Victoria Crosses were awarded in pre-partition Ireland, eight in what is now Northern Ireland and 24 in what is now the Republic.

The design is intended to incorporate a QR code so that people will be able to using their smartphones and tablets to discover more information about their local Victoria Cross heroe.

The winning paving stone was unveiled at the Army & Navy Club in London – originally founded for former and serving officers of the British & Commonwealth Armed Services. The first living recipient of the Victoria Cross in more than 30 years, Lance Sergeant Johnson Beharry, was among those at the unveiling. He was awarded the Victoria Cross for twice saving members of his unit from ambushes in Iraq on 1 May and 11 June 2004.

Young people were represented by members of Middlesex Air Cadets, part of ‘Youth United’, which provides volunteering opportunities with uniformed organisations such as the Scouts, Sea Cadets and Girl Guides. Some of the children from schools that had entered designs in the competition were also there.

The winning design was selected by a panel of seven judges, including members of the government’s First World War Centenary Advisory Board - Professor of Modern History Michael Burleigh and novelist Sebastian Faulks.

After announcing the winning design, Eric Pickles said: "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.

"I was incredibly impressed with the variety of excellent entries that were submitted for the competition. 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.

"The winning paving stone is a fitting tribute to the centenary of the war and will keep the memory of local war heroes alive for hundreds more years to come."

Entries were received from both primary and secondary schools, and their designs were judged separately. Winners will have the full size replica of their designs made by Brent Stevenson Memorials given to their schools as a record of their success and a permanent tribute to their local heroes.

Irfhan Ahmed, age 18, from Queen Mary’s Grammar School in Walsall won the secondary school category for his striking design which impressed the judges with the way it conveys a sense of a line of Victoria Cross winners by showing a row of medals.

Kiara Hines, age 11, from St Margaret Ward RC School school in Sale, Cheshire, won the primary school category for her high quality design that depicts three lions below the Victoria Cross. The judges all remarked how impressed they were with the drawing skills displayed in this entry.

More than 200 entries were received for the main competition.

Lord Ashcroft KCMG PC, a member of the judging panel and owner of the largest collection of Victoria Cross medals, said: "This was a truly splendid crop of designs, many of which showed that their creators had put massive effort into their submissions. There were also some exceptionally good entries from children with great imaginative powers."

The competition winner, Charlie MacKeith, said: "It is a fantastic privilege to win and have my design as a permanent marker for heroes who won the highest award for gallantry.

"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."

• a total of 363 Victoria Crosses were awarded to English-born recipients, 44 to Scottish born-recipients and 15 to Welsh-born recipients; 32 Victoria Crosses were awarded in pre-partition Ireland, 8 in what is now Northern Ireland and 24 in what is now the Republic of Ireland
• Lance Sergeant Johnson Beharry was awarded the Victoria Cross for twice saving members of his unit from ambushes in Iraq on 1 May and 11 June 2004
• all Victoria Cross heroes of the First World War will be commemorated; for those born overseas but who have a local connection in the UK, the relevant local council will be offered a paving stone; we are also working on plans to ensure that all heroes who were awarded the Victoria Cross, but who were born overseas, are commemorated

 

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