World War I centenary: Paving stones to honour heroes

image captionBritish infantrymen marching towards the front lines in the River Somme valley during World War I

Special paving stones will be laid in the home towns of every UK soldier awarded the Victoria Cross as part of 2014's World War I centenary events.

The specially-commissioned stones will be given to councils in the areas where the VC recipients were born.

A total of 28 will be unveiled next year to commemorate medals awarded in 1914 and others will be laid in every year up to 2018.

Plans to restore war memorials around the country have also been announced.

Help will be given to local communities and a website will be launched so people around the UK can obtain funding and support to ensure all memorials are in good condition by November 2018.

Communities secretary Eric Pickles revealed there will be a national competition to design the paving stones, which will have a QR barcode , which people can scan with a smartphone to learn more details about the recipient.

Mr Pickles said: "It is our duty to remember the British and Commonwealth troops who lost their lives fighting in the Great War and laying paving stones to mark these Victoria Cross heroes will ensure that there is a permanent memorial to all the fallen who fought for our country."

Culture Secretary Maria Miller said: "The First World War had a fundamental effect on the course of our history but as time passes, the living links that connect that terrible time and the present day have dwindled.

"So it is really important that we mark the centenary which saw some of the darkest days in our history and remind everyone of the sacrifice that was made - and how it has affected all our lives today."

The Heritage Lottery Fund has also announced the first grants under its new £6m First World War - Then and Now small grants programme.

A campaign is also being launched to get 100 employers signed up to the new Centenary Apprenticeship scheme in 100 days.

The aim is to get companies who existed 100 years ago, which focus on crafts with a modern application, to join up.

There will also be a programme of cultural events presented by the First World War Centenary Partnership, led by the Imperial War Museums who are launching an online centenary cultural events calendar on the centenary website at

Plans for two pupils and a teacher from every state-funded secondary school in England to visit the Western Front battlefields and for a service at Glasgow Cathedral on August 4 next year were announced last month.

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