Now is time to start repairing war memorials

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From: Ray Thompson, South View Avenue, Brigg, North Lincolnshire.

PLANS to mark the centenary of the First World War are increasing in number and complexity as 2014 approaches. Throughout Britain, there are already many local projects under way which will hopefully be well supported.

Two problems however remain; we lack an overriding national project that would capture the public imagination and, after a £50m programme of commemorations was announced last October, many questioned the wisdom of “spreading” those commemorations across four years. Surely, they argue, it is the centenary of the Armistice – Sunday, November 11, 2018 – which is truly worthy of celebration. Over 90 years or so too many war memorials have suffered the effects of a lethal cocktail of natural erosion, weather, traffic vibration and general indifference – sometimes made even more deadly with a dash of theft, vandalism and other abuse.

The scale of the problem was highlighted recently when 33 memorials in the Leamington Spa area of Warwickshire were professionally examined. Of these, several were found to be in poor condition and two were deemed structurally unsound. Extrapolated nationally, such figures are frightening.

Directing additional money toward renovation of those war memorials in the most dire straits before November 2018 will achieve two outcomes; when society most needs them, it will have a heritage of clean, readable and safe war memorials to call upon and it will have maintained the most relevant, accessible – and lasting – tribute to all those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

But to be ready in time for the date that matters most to many people, that renovation has to start now.

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