Budget agreed for Somme centenary

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A budget of £50,000 has been set aside by Antrim and Newtownabbey Council for events to mark the 100 year anniversary of the Somme.

Councillors were informed at last week’s monthly meeting that a working group, set up last October and comprising of councillors, Royal British Legion and Somme Association members, had met in December with Alderman Fraser Agnew elected as Chair, while Billy Snoddy of the Royal British Legion was appointed Vice Chair.

The other elected members of the group are Cllr Thomas Hogg, Alderman William Ball, Cllr Jim Bingham, Cllr Neil Kelly, Cllr Brian Duffin, Cllr Henry Cushinan, and Cllr David Hollis.

It had been noted that the group felt that the centenary was not just about the July 1 anniversary and that it would be fitting to commemorate throughout the 140 day period of the Battle commencing on July 1 and running until the end of November.

Among the projects planned - which will not conflict with any previously organised events - are the production of a poppy themed art work, production of a book listing names of the fallen from the borough and installation of a memorial stone at the trench in Campbell Memorial Garden, Mossley Mill.

There will be a themed exhibition, which will be on display in various locations during the period throughout the borough, as well as planting schemes on roundabouts and other locations.

There will also be a 100 Year Anniversary Battle of the Somme concert at the end of November, which will both commemorate the centenary and celebrate the end of the programme recognising schools, community groups and others who have participated.

Welcoming the plans, Alderman Mark Cosgrove said there were “significant legacy opportunities”.

He added that there would be great educational value to the plans.

Cllr Philip Brett added his agreement and said he hoped there would be invitation to all local schools to take part.