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Nick Owen encourages people in the Midlands to discover, explore and remember

13 September 2016

Presenter and newsreader, Nick Owen, has teamed up with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) to encourage people in the Midlands to visit their local war gravesand discover the stories behind the names of those who gave their lives in the First World War.

The CWGC’s Living Memory Project remembers the forgotten front; the 300,000 war graves and memorials in Britain from both world wars. Nick visited Warstone Lane Cemetery in Birmingham today to talk about his support for the organisation and its initiative.

The aim of CWGC’s Living Memory Project is to encourage community groups to discover, explore and remember their local war heritage. Everyone in the UK has at least one war grave three miles from their front door. The CWGC would like people to sign up to the project and take part.

In the Midlands alone, there are more than 24,000 war graves and memorials commemorating men and women from the First and Second World Wars.

Nick Owen, ambassador for CWGC’s Living Memory Project in the Midlands, said: “I’m honoured to be representing the Midlands for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Living Memory Project.

“The CWGC has more than 24,000 graves and memorials throughout the Midlands, with the majority of men and women buried or commemorated either dying in a British hospital of injuries or due to the influenza pandemic that followed the First World War.

“My family were one of the lucky ones, as my Grandfather fought during the Battle of the Somme, but came home. He only spoke a little about what happened and that was mostly many, many years later. I couldn’t imagine the horror of what he saw and the many friends he would have lost.

“Remembering those buried in CWGC war graves is a fitting way to pay our respects, and I would encourage people to get involved in Living Memory.”

Funding and creative resources are available to help groups identify a CWGC war grave near where they live. This can be to help towards researching about some of those buried locally and to stage a commemorative event.

Any community group interested can register now by emailing or visiting

Samantha Daynes, CWGC’s Media Manager for the UK, said: “We commemorate more than 300,000 Commonwealth war dead of both world wars across 12,000 locations in the UK.

“Everyone in the UK has at least one CWGC war grave within three miles of their front door – and we want to raise awareness of this and get people visiting to pay their respects.

“With the support of the DCMS, DCLG and The Big Ideas Company, the Living Memory Project has helped to encourage people in Britain to discover and visit their local war graves and remember their war dead.

“We’d like people throughout the Midlands to get involved, sign up to our project and share their stories to raise awareness within their wider communities.”

CWGC’s Living Memory Project, part-funded by the government, is working in partnership with community engagement specialists, The Big Ideas Company.

The Big Ideas Company Managing Director, Virginia Crompton, added: "We’re proud to be contributing to such a meaningful project supporting people across the UK to discover their local war graves. 

"It’s hard to think of a more profound or significant way to mark the Somme Centenary and to reflect upon the impact of war.

"As a result of Nick Owen's call to action today, we hope to see flowers laid on war graves across the Midlands region between now and the 18th November - the final day of the battle of the Somme in 1916."

For more information, contact: Samantha Daynes on 01628 507102 or by email



Notes for editors:

1. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) commemorates the 1.7 million Commonwealth servicemen and women who died during the two world wars. It also holds and updates an extensive and accessible records archive.

The Commission operates in more than 23,000 locations in more than 150 countries.

Get to know the Commonwealth War Graves Commission





2. Photo and other credits

Please ensure that all photos, videos and other materials are credited to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission or CWGC.

3. Big Ideas Company Ltd (

BICO develops and delivers public engagement and participation projects, specialising in projects which bring groups together and create new experiences and relationships.