Andy Preston has joined calls from a Middlesbrough-based school for relatives of the town’s 3,317 war dead from WW1 to come forward with information.
The North East entrepreneur and charity leader is backing Acklam Grange School’s annual Remembrance Project after he was approached to help gather any information locals might have on anyone from Middlesbrough who perished during the Great War.
The project will involve the pupils of the school, along with its feeder schools and local organisations, including Middlesbrough Football Club and MFC Foundation, being allocated an individual to pay special commemoration to. This follows on from poignant memorial in 2014 through to 2017, where handmade poppies were planted to represent each of the lives lost during the First World War 100 years on respectively.
Students will have the chance to learn about the life of their nominated victim, using the information gathered during the project. They will then participate in a special remembrance service in November, marking 100 years since the end of WW1.
Andy, whose Grandfather’s stepfather John Whitehead was killed in action on October the 16th 1915, said: “Acklam Grange do fantastic things every year to remember the victims of the First World War, and this year will be amazing! The project, created by Mr Whatmore and Mr Lowes, is incredibly profound and will ensure that every pupil appreciates why we remember the dead in a very personal way.
“For each of those students to learn as much as possible, we are looking for local residents to come forward with any information they might have on any of the war dead from Middlesbrough. Like me, you might not even know you have a connection with the Great War, but after a visit to Middlesbrough’s war memorial in Albert Park, I was surprised to find my relative, John Thomas Whitehead, amongst the names of men who lost their lives. That personal connection has really brought home the devastation that the town suffered.”
Teacher Jonathan Lowes said: “We are keen for the fantastic work of the students to not only impact the school but also to be share with the local community. The Great War had a devastating effect on community over community 100 years ago, so we feel it is only fitting for our community to come together to pay our respects.”
Teacher Guy Whatmore said: “Over recent years the Acklam Grange School Remembers project ‘Then, now and forever’ has grown considerably, and we are passionate about making this 2018’s service fitting, significant and poignant.”