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UK Government announces nationwide vigils to commemorate the Somme Centenary

Posted  20 November 2015 in News  
By Kate Clements
A member of the Army Chaplains' Department (AChD) tending a soldier's grave during the Battle of the Somme, July 1916. © IWM (Q 4004)

In 2016, events will take place to commemorate 100 years since the Battle of the Somme.

The UK will hold overnight public vigils across the country to mark the centenary of the battle. The overnight vigils will take place in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland so as many people as possible can come together and remember those who lost their lives in the battle. The Battle of the Somme claimed over one million lives and affected the lives of millions at home.

A national commemorative service will also take place at Manchester Cathedral on 1 July 2016 and will be followed by a procession through Manchester to Heaton Park. The event will close with live performances of music, spoken word and dance, featuring the Hallé Orchestra.

The overnight vigils will take place on 30 June 2016 and will be:
– A national vigil at Westminster Abbey around the Grave of the Unknown Warrior;
– The Scottish National War Memorial in Edinburgh Castle;
– Clandeboye and Helen’s Tower, County Down, Northern Ireland – in association with the Somme Heritage Centre; and
– The Welsh National War Memorial, Cardiff.

Other ways to get involved in commemorating the Somme centenary include:
– An overnight programme of events at IWM London on 30 June; and
– The Royal British Legion and Commonwealth War Graves Commission will host a daily vigil at Thiepval from 2 July – 18 November to mark the 141 days of battle. Local communities throughout the UK are encouraged to organise local events linking to the vigils in Thiepval.

Communities interested in exploring the Somme or in organising events and exhibitions to mark the centenary of the battle can apply for grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund’s First World War: Then and Now £4 million fund.

Find out more about the UK Government’s plans to mark the First World War Centenary.

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