What we mean by ‘Heritage’

A determined John Simmons updates us on the latest from 26 Armistice. To print or not to print? According to John, there is no question.

It seems that the Heritage Lottery Fund has a different idea of heritage from us. A week or so ago we heard that they had rejected our application for £10,000 funding for a book of the Armistice project on the grounds that “it didn’t directly engage with the heritage of the First World War”. This puzzled us as our project has 100 writers researching and writing about people who were alive at the time of the war.

All we could do was gnash our teeth and decide not to buy a lottery ticket… but then we decided, more positively, that the book had to happen. As an editorial group – Lisa Andrews, Neil Baker, Ed Prichard, Becca Magnus and I – we decided we would still produce a book as a necessary memorial to the people our 100 writers had focused on. We also believed this is an important part of 26’s heritage.

As editors we had seen the pieces coming in – centenas, a new form. An extraordinary range of subjects. Famous people and ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Completely international. UK, Ireland, Europe, USA, Canada, India, South Africa, the West Indies, Australia, New Zealand. Surprising stories. Moving tales. Beautiful writing.

Martin Clarkson, 26’s chairman, sent us a message: “The book will happen.”

Now we are going to do just that. We will use whatever means we can to raise funds to pay for printing and production: crowdfunding, sponsorship, philanthropy. We are also investigating the possibility of a charity link too. This has been a project that has connected deeply with everyone involved and made us all aware of the awful effects of war and the remarkable capacity for human compassion. So we are looking into ways that, once the production costs are covered, we can pass excess funds to a charity such as War Child.

We’ll tell you more, once we have the details worked out. Then we hope you’ll want to contribute to make the book a reality before Armistice Day on 11 November. But if, in the meantime, you have any thoughts on fundraising, generous offers, leads to pursue, let us know (admin@26.org.uk) – we need to act quickly. And we will: this will be an important book.

John Simmons



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