Forget Never

Forget Never

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

The Son's of Three Countries Remebered

The Son’s of Three Countries Remembered.

Stephen Metcalfe MP’s local project to commemorate the centenary of the First World War brought to life a unique tri-lingual Christmas Concert. The concert, funded by an Our Heritage Grant from HLF East of England, provided the opportunity for invited guests from all areas of the community as well as dignitaries from both of Basildon’s Twin Towns - Heiligenhaus in Germany and Meaux in France. Fricklesome Amsel, a renowned folk group from Heiligenhaus provided the musical direction for the concert leading performances by Basildon Choral Society and Pitsea Junior School Choir.
Christopher Walthorne playing Louis Vallin, Writing his letter home

James Le Lacheur, Playing Albert Kiekert, writing his letter home

Adam Elliott, playing George Burnett, writing his letter home
A play written by local script writer Dawn Knox entwined the musical pieces with short playlets performed by actors from DOT productions. The playlets followed the lives of three men, one from each of the Twin Towns, who served their country during the conflict.
Images from first rehearsals
MP Stephen Metcalfe commented “A hundred years ago Great Britain and France were at war with Germany. Thankfully today we are all allies and friends. It is therefore fitting that our project involves close collaboration with our Twin Towns of Heiligenhaus in Germany and Meaux in France. It has been so uplifting to be part of a tri-lingual effort to remember all those who were affected by the conflict wherever they were from.
 This concert remembers in particular three individuals who served in the First World War, one each from the three Twin Towns. Their stories would be echoed in so many communities throughout the globe.”
We asked script writer Dawn Know to tell us more about the project:
I had no idea when a friend asked me to write 'a little sketch about some World War One soldiers', that it would grow into a series of short scenes about the First World War and would specifically follow the lives of three service men from three different countries.
My knowledge of World War One was limited, to say the least, so I read as much as I could, especially first hand accounts of service men and of course, I researched George Burnett, from Great Britain, Albert Kiekert, from Germany and Louis Vallin, from France.
There are many different approaches to writing about World War One but I wanted to concentrate on the shared experience which would have been common to many service men - whatever their nationality. I wanted to show the men's desire to protect their countries and families, the atrocious conditions they endured in the trenches and to mention that initially, at least, there was optimism that the troubles would soon be over.
During my research, I encountered numerous acts of heroism and bravery and I was touched to read about men who witnessed the enemy behaving so courageously, that civility and respect pushed aside all thoughts of killing. For me, those accounts were tiny points of light in what was otherwise a depressing story of death and despair. 
At all cost, I wanted to avoid condemnation of any country. Yes, we were enemies, but we all shared the horror and pain.
I also wanted to avoid any hint of triumphalism. The loss on all sides was too great.
And finally, I wanted the script to be a tribute - not only to the three service men, George Burnett, Albert Kiekert and Louis Vallin - but to all the men and women who served their countries and shared the dark days we now call the First World War. 

May we all remember them and honour them by striving for a peaceful future.
Musical direction for the concert was arranged by Fricklesome Amsel from Heiligenhaus

Basildon Choral Society

Narrator Natalie Taylor-Scotcher speaking with Albert Kiekert

Fricklesome Amsel rehearsing with pupils from Pitsea Junior School

Pitsea Junior School Choir

Suzanne Vallin, Daughter of Louis Vallin (one of the soldiers in the concert) meets our script writer Dawn Knox for the first time

George Burnett and Albert Kiekert

The Christmas Truce

British Sargeant played by Andrew Lindfield chatting to a German Solider during the Christmas Truce

Louis Vallin reading first hand accounts of what it was like during WW1

MP Stephen Metcalfe reading a soldiers letter from WW1

George Burnett, The Narrator, Albert Kiekert, British Solider and Louis Vallin

Madame Vallin from Meaux, Thomas Rickal from Heiligenhaus and Mayor Mo Larkin from Basildon lay wreaths at the end of the productions

The three wreaths from three nations

The fabulous Plaamatising that arranged all the sound, lights and technical "stuff" for the concert

Madame Vallin and Script writer Dawn Knox chatting after the production

The cast of Dot Productions

Tony Ball, Thomas Rickal, Mayor Mo Larkin, MP Stephen Metcalfe and Head of Twinning Bob Sheridan after the concert
Photos by David Smith

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Festival of Remembrance

“The Forget Never, Oublier Jamais, Vergessen Niemals”  Project  launched by MP Stephen Metcalfe in July 2014 provided the opportunity for two youths, who are part of the project, to be a part of the Festival of Remembrance at The Royal Albert Hall.
 Jonathan Horst 18 from Velbert, Germany and Jade Petchey 19 from Southend were honoured to be chosen and represented the project delivering the Anglo/German tribute in the finale at the festival.
Jonathan and Jade presented the President, Lieutenant General Sir John Kiszely KCB MC, of the Royal British Legion with a poppy posy which was laid on top of the regimental drums in the centre of the auditorium. The two youths then addressed the audience reading a pray in both English and German.
Jaded and JJonathanrehearsing at The Royal Albert Hall

Rehearsal with the amazing War Horse and John Tamms

Joss Stone chatting with some of the navy backstage

Jonathan from Velbert near Heiligenhaus and Jade from Southend have been working with the team to write short poems and stories relating to research carried out by The Basildon Borough Heritage Group based on the lives of three soldiers, one from Basildon and one from each of Basildon’s twinning towns, Meaux in France and Heiligenhaus in Germany.

At the end of the Festival, RBL President, Lieutenant General Sir John Kiszely KCB MC presented Jonathan with the Posy that had been laid on the regimental drums as thank you, from the RBL, for his participation in this year’s special commemorative event.
We asked Jonathan to comment on the weekends events from a German Perspective
 "The whole remembrance day was an amazing festival which really impressed me. It had a particular atmosphere due to its very emotional show acts. In addition a feeling of togetherness was created because we all (the performers) tried to do our best and to contribute to a successful event. Personally, it was interesting to see the British way this memorial day, because in Germany it is much less popular. In addition to that the festival showed reconciliation between two former enemies and even underlines today's friendship. For me it was an huge honour and great fun to be part of the Festival of remembrance, moreover it made my very proud. To participate in the show was truly exciting and will be a memory I'll never forget"
Jonathan and Jade waiting backstage
The unique nature of this project, as recognised by the Lottery Heritage Fund who have awarded the project over £50,000, is that it brings together the three twinning towns to create a tri-lingual commemoration of the centenary. The project will continue to explore what life was like in the three townships; attitudes from the three points of view and, most importantly, allow us to remember the people – those who died, those who suffered incredible injuries and of course those who survived and kept the communities running during this important period in our history.
Jonathan and Jade delivering the Angle/German tribute
  The Queen's Colour Squadron and the Band of HM Royal Marines performed along with Joss Stone and Jeff Beck, Jim Radford and Sol3 Mio plus a special appearance from War Horse. Here are some images from the evening's performance of The Festival of Remembrance.
The British Royal Legion standards

The Queen's Colour Squadron of the Rpyal Air Force

The Royal Marines, Portsmouth

John Tams and The National Theatre Company of War Horse

Joss Stone and Jeff Beck perform "No Man's Land (Green Fields of France)

The Muster

 The annual Festival, held at the Royal Albert Hall, commemorated and honored all those who have lost their lives in conflicts dating from World War 1, hosted by The Royal British Legion. This year's festival theme was A Century of Service and sacrifice and acknowledged the centenary of the start of the First World War, 70 years since the Normandy landings and the withdrawal from Afghanistan this year. 

Jonathon, Jade, Matthew, Jim Radford and Jonas at the after show party
Joanthon chats to Stephen Clarke, Head of Remembrance for the Royal British Legion

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Centenary Exhibition Launch at Wat Tyler

Saturday 27th September saw the launch of the First World War commemorative project “ Forget Never, Oublier Jamais, Vergessen Niemals” held at The Green Centre, Wat Tyler Country Park.

MP Stephen Metcalfe and Robert Sheridan looking through the Roll of honour list

Setting up artefacts ready for public viewing

Local MP Stephen Metcalfe launched this collaborative project in Parliament earlier in the year and has been working with Basildon Heritage Group and others to create a truly memorable local exhibition that will stand as a reminder of the sacrifices made 100 years ago.

The unique nature of this project, as recognised by the Lottery Heritage Fund (who awarded the project over £50,000), is that it also brings together Basildon with it's two Twin Towns of Meaux in France and Heiligenhaus in Germany to create a mobile, tri-lingual exhibition. Over the next four years the exhibition will grow as it travels to France and Germany as well as all corners of the Borough.

The exhibition explores life in the three townships; attitudes from three points of view and, most importantly, allows us to remember the people – those who died, those who suffered incredible injuries and of course those who survived and kept the communities running during this important period in our history.

Prominent displays in the exhibitions feature:

  • Images of what Basildon was like during the First World War
  • A display that discusses the Heiligenhaus Youth Visit held in August 2014, where youths from Basildon, Heiligenhaus and Meaux met to plan a youth conference for 2015 based on the themes of conflict resolution and reconciliation.
  • Research into 3 soldiers, George Burnett from Basildon, Louis Vallin from Meaux and Albert Kiekert from Heiligenhaus
  • Research, images and information on Basildon's MP during WW1, The Right Honourable Rupert Edward Cecil Lee Guinness, 2nd Earl of Iveagh 
  • Images and information on a commemorative cricket match held at Wickford Cricket Club to raise funds for a commemorative plaque for the club
  • Images of the 9 War Memorials across the Basildon Borough
  • A selection of properganda postcards from across Europe
  • A selection of artworks created by School pupils and local artists
Here are a few pictures from the exhibition launch
Marion Cunningham presenting her book, a true story of War Time Britain -'For the love of Ameila' based on the real life story of her grandparents

Our Edwardian lady welcomes visitors to the exhibition

A busy bustling exhibition

Visitors were invited to look through the roll of honour and write the name of a solider onto a cross to lay by our commemorative mosaic made by local pupils and local artist Lisa Smith

Our Edwardian volunteers 

Visitors spent time designing their own medals in our art and craft area

"Read all about it" our paper boy made announcements throughout the day, of key facts that lead up to the outbreak of World War 1 t

Laindon Community Choir provided visitors with beautiful renditions of famous World War 1 tunes
Stephen Metcalfe chats with Matthew Edson, one of our young people that took part in our youth visit to Heiligenhaus

Trying on soldiers helmets 

Meeting serving soliders

Local MP Stephen Metcalfe officially opens the exhibition

Local funeral directors Cribbs, provided the horses for the famous War Horse film, at the exhibition visitors enjoyed watching the Real War Horse documentary that  Tells the true story of the million of British horses who served in WW1

Creative crafts and the opportunity to view propaganda postcards from around Europe

Calling everyone to attention!

Visitors viewing a short film that was produced by Pitsea Junior School on the history of Basildon during WW1

Matthew Edson reads his presentation regarding his experiences, thoughts and impact that the young peoples visit has had on his views regarding the education of young people on World War 1

Ken Porter showing St Martin's Church Reverend Esther Mcafferty and husband Peter around the exhibition

A father and son place a cross around the commemorative mosaic

Thomas all dressed ready for parade with a replica Enfield rifle

Tony Ball and Stephen Metcalfe discussing Basildons MP during World War 1, The Right Honourable Rupert Guinness 2nd Earl of Iveagh

Stunning glass work donated to Forget Never by Spellbound glass, featuring images of Louis Vallin, George Burnett and Albert Kiekert
Angie and Debbie from Spell Bound Glass

Basildon Heritage have spent the last two years researching facts and information about local people who fell during the conflict one hundred years ago, which has been culminated into a Roll of Honour Book with the names of 342 soldiers. A copy of the Roll of Honour was presented to each parish during the remembrance services held on the 4th August.

A variety of local archive and historical groups attended the opening to showcase research and findings relating to their parishes history during World War 1.

The exhibition will be open daily 10am -4pm until the end of October 2014 before moving on to Meaux in France in December and then Heiligenhaus in Germany in February.

If you would like any further information regarding the exhibition please contact the project manager, Lisa Smith. No 1, The Laboratory, Wat Tyler Country Park, Pitsea Hall Lane, Pitsea, SS16 4UH - Email: the_laboratory@ or Phone: 07970 332097