“They are no longer just names on the wall” best sums up the stunning tribute to the First World War fallen, which has been launched here in West Sussex.
Two Arundel places of worship - the cathedral and St Nicholas Church - are now each displaying 93 perspex silhouettes, which commemorate the same number of local men who were killed during the 1914-1918 conflict.
They are at the forefront of a national campaign, called There But Not There, which has kicked off this month, and has three main aims ahead of the 100th anniversary of end of war on November 11.
This Armistice project, which is being lead by the charity Remembered has three aims; to commemorate the Fallen, educate all generations about why they made the ultimate sacrifice, and heal by raising substantial funds to help heal those suffering from the hidden wounds of war. Local schools are planning to take pupils to both places of worship to see the installation. The 93 silhouettes, including the four that represent the Maxwell Stuart brothers who all died during the First World War, are sat in the pews in both the cathedral at St Nicholas, serving as a powerful reminder that these brave men were once very much part of the community. For most ‘normal’ services the silhouettes will remain in place. The local display is currently the biggest of its kind anywhere in the country and has been driven by town councillor and former mayor Michael Tu, who is also a trustee of the national There But Not There campaign. He hopes it will capture the public’s imagination in the same way that the sea of poppies at the Tower of London did nearly four years ago. Already 60,000 figures have been sold but the charity would like to sell 888,246, the number of British and Commonwealth soldiers killed, by November.
The Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust has made £2 million worth of grants available for schools, churches and community groups to bid to have installations like the ones in Arundel in venues across the country. The grants will be available from the 1st– 30th June, please visit therebutnotthere.org.uk
Each silhouette costs £42 along with £10 for an engraved perspex name block.
The charity is also selling ‘10 inch Tommies’ for £29.99 each, which individuals and families can display in their homes. These Tommies are made by veterans at the Royal British Legion Industries, with all profits going to our six benefitting charities; The Royal Foundation, Combat Stress, Help for Heroes, Walking with the Wounded, Commonwealth War Graves Commission and Project Equinox.
Mr Tu said: “We want people to come to Arundel to see the 93 silhouettes. Nationally, we hope this will have the same impact as the poppies at the Tower of London but the installation will be across the country. We want to get the message across that these men are no longer just names on the wall. “The plan is that silhouettes will also make appearances at the Baptist Church, schools and other locations around the town.”
Lord Henry Fitzalan-Howard, Earl of Arundel, said:
“The ‘There But Not There’ campaign is a truly outstanding national venture, not only remembering the sacrifices of those who lived through war 100 years ago, but also channelling that into real help for veterans and others living today.”
Lucy Ashworth, mayor of Arundel, said: “The educational part of the campaign is essential, so that future generations do not forget the great sacrifice they made for this country and what an effect it had on villages. 93 silhouettes in a single place of worship is a haunting reminder of those lives that were so precious to our community.”
The installations at Arundel Cathedral and St Nicholas Church will be present for members of the public to visit between now and Armistice Day. For details on the campaign and how to buy the Tommies and seated silhouettes, please visit therebutnotthere.org.uk