It has been announced this week that the National Lottery has given the Commonwealth War Graves Foundation a grant of £87,800 for the Lest We Forget project run in conjunction with the University of Oxford. The funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund’s First World War Then and Now programme will be used to stage events around the country where project volunteers can make digital records of items and heirlooms held by members of the public. It will also allow the project to train individuals and community groups as Digital Champions. Champions will learn how to organize and run their own First World War Digital Collection Days, and assist in the effort to protect and preserve these vital objects—medals, letters, diaries, photographs.
Dr Stuart Lee, Deputy CIO of IT Services at the University of Oxford, said: “Lest We Forget began as an idea in 2017 building on ten years of successful projects around crowd-sourcing WW1 material. We want to support schools and local communities to run their own digital collection days to allow them to record those stories, objects and memories from the First World War which survive - not in museum collections or history books - but in the hearts and homes of the very many families and individuals affected. After a successful crowd-sourcing project we were able to launch the initial project in October 2017 and this collaboration with the Commonwealth War Graves Foundation will enable us grow even further as we approach the Armistice anniversary.”
Julian Evans, International and Community Engagement Director for the CWGC, said: “We are thrilled to have been awarded this grant and are grateful to all who play the National Lottery. The Commonwealth War Graves Foundation was launched in 2017 in honour of our 100th anniversary. Working with Oxford University, this ground-breaking project will enable us to engage with communities across the UK, shining a light on their own heritage and sharing stories of those who served in the First World War.”
The free to use digital archive will be accessible on https://lwf.web.ox.ac.uk and will go live in November 2018 as the country marks 100 years since the end of the First World War.