'Huge efforts’ are being put in by a Maidenhead-based organisation playing a key role in the Battle of the Somme centenary commemorations next week.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), in Marlow Road, cares for cemeteries and memorials at 23,000 locations, in 154 countries and ensures the 1.7 million people who died in both the First and Second World Wars will never be forgotten.
On Friday, July 1 a special commemorative event will be taking place at the commission’s Thiepval Memorial in northern France.
Peter Francis, marketing and media manager, said: “We are expecting 10,000 people to attend the service and we will have buses arriving every 15 seconds.
“There’s been a huge effort involved in the £1.6 million restoration ‘of the memorial), including adding lights and making the memorial water-tight. We’re taking a conservation approach as we want this memorial to last until its 200th anniversary.
“I feel privileged to be a part of this, and I’m hoping and praying the weather will be kind to us. The French government have been fantastic and we want everyone to feel part of this special occasion.”
Home Secretary and Maidenhead MP Theresa May visited the CWGC on Friday, June 17.
She said: “It was very good to visit the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, which we are proud to have based in Maidenhead. The Commission does vital work in ensuring that our fallen soldiers are never forgotten and that respect is shown to all those who died in the world wars.
“This is particularly relevant at the moment, as we continue to mark the centenary of the First World War including the upcoming 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme.”
Peter added: “The visit went fantastically; she said it was great to learn about the organisation and find out about all the work we are doing.”
The CWGC has also launched a new project called Living Memory, which remembers the 300,000 war graves and commemorations here in the United Kingdom.
Visit www.cwgc.org to find out more.
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