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First World War commemoration at the National Assembly for Wales

09/11/2015

An exhibition featuring stories of soldiers and their families during the First World War, told by their descendants, will form part of the National Assembly for Wales's commemorations this year.

The National Assembly for Wales Remembers exhibition is a collection of personal memories and artifacts from Assembly Members and Assembly Commission staff whose ancestors served in the Great War.

Stories include that of William Graham AM, whose grandfather served in the Queen's Victoria Rifles and was saved by his backpack when a piece of shrapnel became embedded in a waistcoat; and of the Presiding Officer, Dame Rosemary Butler AM, whose great-uncle John William Peacey was killed in active service.

To formally open the exhibition on 11 November, Sir Deian Hopkin, expert advisor for Cymru'n Cofio / Wales Remembers 1914 – 1918, will give a lecture examining the legacy of former Merthyr Tydfil and Aberdare MP Keir Hardie.

An advocate of Women's rights and critic of the conventional politics of his age, Hardie's influence is recognised around the UK with roads, schools and health centres named after him.

"The National Assembly for Wales Remembers exhibition allows us to connect, in a very personal way, with the First World War," said Dame Rosemary Butler AM, Presiding Officer of the National Assembly for Wales.

"Many of us have stories of family members who made the ultimate sacrifice, or who survived to pass their experiences on to future generations.

"I hope the stories told here at the Senedd will help to educate and inspire those who come to see them."

Also, on display during the day will be the Welsh Book of Remembrance, the decorated volume containing the names of all the Welsh servicemen who lost their lives during the First World War.

The book is currently being digitised in a joint project between the National Library of Wales and the Welsh Centre for International Affairs under the Wales for Peace programme. The hope is to encourage 100,000 people in Wales to help transcribe the digital edition using newly developed software, which will be formally unveiled in the Senedd at noon.

"The act of remembering is an important aspect in the search for peace so we are inviting community groups and people from across Wales to join us to record the names of all the fallen listed in the Book of Remembrance which is housed in the Temple of Peace, Cardiff," said Craig Owen, Head of Wales for Peace.

"Starting with the Assembly Members, community groups from across Wales are invited to help to type in the names and page references of all who died in service in order provide a searchable resource for families and researchers."

Dame Rosemary Butler AM said:

"It is with great pride that I welcome Wales for Peace and the Book of Remembrance to the National Assembly for Wales.

"Once the names of the fallen are digitally transcribed, Welsh descendants worldwide, as well as future generations, can search for family members honoured in the Book of Remembrance.

"I am looking forward to playing a part in this wonderful endeavor."

Finally, at 10.45 on the morning of Monday 11 November, the Presiding Officer will lead the exhortation and the two minute silence, in partnership with the Royal British Legion, at the Senedd.

The National Assembly for Wales Remembers exhibition has been organised in partnership with the Cardiff Story Museum.

 

Programme of events

11 November 2015:

10.45 – Exhortation followed by two minute silence at 11.00 – Senedd

12.00 – Formal launch of Welsh Book of Remembrance transcription tool - Senedd

18.00 – Sir Deian Hopkin lecture – Senedd

 

The National Assembly for Wales Remembers exhibition runs from 5 November 2015 – 21 February 2016.

Professor Sir Deian Hopkin is President of the National Library of Wales and Expert Adviser to the First Minister of Wales on the First World War centenary commemorations.  A historian, he spent 45 years in university teaching, including 25 years at Aberystwyth, and was Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive of London South Bank University until his retirement in 2009.  He was a founding editor of Llafur, the journal of Welsh People's History.

Wales for Peace is a four-year project funded by the National Lottery Heritage Board and supported by key research partners such as the National Library of Wales and the universities of Aberystwyth and Cardiff, as well as organisations such as the Urdd and Cymdeithas y Cymod. Wales for Peace is a heritage project which, through community involvement, aims to answer the question: In the 100 years since the First World War, how has Wales contributed to the search for peace? The project is also forward-looking in stimulating debate around issues of peace for the benefit of future generations.

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