Paving stones to honour WWI heroes
Victoria Cross recipients will be at the heart of plans to mark the centenary of the First World War, it has been announced.
Special commemorative paving stones will be laid in the home towns of all those in the United Kingdom awarded the Victoria Cross for valour "in the face of the enemy" during the conflict as part of efforts to mark the centenary of the Great War next year.
As part of centenary events, new measures to restore war memorials across the country have also been announced. Other plans include a programme of cultural events, candlelit vigils and a service of commemoration attended by Commonwealth leaders.
The centenary of Britain's entry into the war will be marked on August 4 next year with a service of commemoration at Glasgow Cathedral for Commonwealth leaders on the day after the closing ceremony of the Commonwealth Games.
On the same day, a ceremony will be held at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission St Symphorien Military Cemetery in Mons, Belgium, where men believed to be the first and last Commonwealth casualties of the war are buried.
A candlelit vigil will be held at Westminster Abbey at the end of the day with the last candle extinguished at 11pm - the moment war was declared. Other events include a programme allowing two pupils and one teacher from every state-funded secondary school in England to visit the battlefields of the Western Front.
One year from the start of the four-year centenary programme, new measures announced include help to restore war memorials up and down the country, as well as Victoria Cross recipients being honoured.
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has announced a national competition to design specially-commissioned paving stones which will be presented to councils in the areas where VC recipients of the First World War were born.
There will be 28 stones unveiled next year to commemorate medals awarded in 1914 and other stones will be unveiled each year up until 2018. Each stone will also have a QR reader, which people can scan using a smartphone to reveal 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 we are determined to make sure their bravery for King and Country is not forgotten."