Fundraising push to fund World War One memorial is a roaring success

Kath Woodward celebrates the Belper RBL's fund raising efforts.
Kath Woodward celebrates the Belper RBL's fund raising efforts.

Our Pennies for Our Heroes appeal to fund a ‘living memorial’ to Belper’s World War One soldiers has smashed through its £500 target.

The fundraising push, launched in January, has seen people from all walks of life donate at the British Legion in Strutt Street.

An oak tree will now stand in the town’s Memorial Gardens on Remembrance Day thanks to your generosity.

And there will even be enough left over to install a commemorative plaque to the 275 men from the town who lost their lives during the 1914-1918 conflict.

The Pennies appeal is now closed with the tally standing at £548. However, the legion said it is beginning preparations for its Poppy Appeal and any further donations can be contributed to that.

Nigel Winn, from Belper British Legion, said: “I would like to say a massive thank you to the public of Belper for supporting the appeal.

“The effort people have gone to to support this is absolutely fantastic. However, in one way it doesn’t surprise me because the people in Belper have always been amazing at providing us with support.

“And it’s not just been legion members, everyone in the town that has got behind it.

“One couple bought in a large whiskey bottle which must have had about £70 in it.

“This will now mean that there will be a fitting tribute that will be in the town for at least the next 100 years.

“It helped that we had a big last push and with the 100th anniversary that it’s been in people’s minds.”

The Pennies campaign saw people handing in jam jars full of coppers much in the same way that they did when we launched an appeal to fund a tree for the Diamond Jubilee.

Belper News editor, Julie Crouch, said: “As 2014 marks the 100th year since the outbreak of the ‘Great War’, we wanted to raise enough money to provide a fitting tribute to the sacrifice so many young men made for us.

“The fact that people from every corner of Belper have got behind this campaign in such a way is a true testament to their service and dedication .

“I look forward to seeing the tree unveiled now on November 11. I know it is something the whole town can be proud of.”

Thirty-six of the men named on the Belper Memorial died during the Battle of the Somme from Saturday, July 1, 1916 to November 18, 1916.

Fourteen of the 36 died on the first day of the battle – most of them within minutes of leaving the trenches.

Their sacrifice is detailed in a roll of honour on display at St John’s Heritage Centre, Belper for the next four years.