Heritage Lottery Fund Support Means Green Light for D-Day Plans

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Heritage Lottery Fund Support Means Green Light for D-Day Plans

Innovative plans to commemorate the massive contribution which troops and residents, in what is now the Borough of Havant, made towards the success of D-Day can now go ahead thanks to a grant of nearly £100,000 (£98,600) from Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). .

The community arts group WemsFest has devised a programme which explores and documents the build-up to this world-changing event which took place on 6 June 1944. .  Few people living in the Borough are aware of the scale of activity that included the construction of the innovative Mulberry Harbours, manufacturing miles and miles of camouflage netting, building landing craft, and staging mock invasions.  Not to mention the detailed invasion planning, and the thousands of overseas troops who were billeted and camped in the area.  All of this made a significant impact on normal civilian lives and the importance of gleaning this knowledge from those who were alive at the time is paramount.

There are several strands to the WemsFest programme which include:

secondary school students interviewing people about their memories of 1944 and making a professionally produced DVD which will be generallyavailable;.

an exhibition of memorabilia from 1944 in Emsworth Community Centre;

six collage exhibitions entitled ‘Memories Are Made of This’ in the Borough’s libraries which combine wartime memorabilia with inspired creative writing from local writing circles;.

dressing part of Emsworth as a 1944 town with sandbags outside buildings, blast-tape across shop windows, and shopkeepers in period costume to recreate a wartime feel;

large scale images from D-Day and inspired by D-Day will be projected onto a building in the centre of Emsworth;.

a specially commissioned play to be written by two2 local playwrights which focuses on how the D-Day preparations affected normal workinglives.  This is combined with a big-band, jitterbug dancers, and involves local schools;.

the production of a map and booklet showing the role which the local area played in the run-up to D-Day and the map will be distributed by The News (Portsmouth) and Chichester Observer;.

an ancillary programme of events over the two week period prior to 6 June.

There’s already there’s been substantial interest in the project from overseas with CBC (Canada) particularly keen to give the event coverage

due to the role Canadian troops played.  A dedicated website will shortly be operational but meanwhile if anyone has stories, anecdotes, or memorabilia which they think may be of interest please contact the WemsFest office 01243 378742 or wemsfest@btinternet.com.