LYME Regis has been chosen to host a unique nationwide gesture of remembrance for the men and women who left their home shores during the First World War, fronted by Academy Award-winning film producer Danny Boyle.
Lyme’s main sandy beach has been selected as one of just 30 in the country as a venue for Boyle’s ‘Pages Of The Sea’ commission to mark the centenary of Armistice Day on Sunday, November 11.
Only three other resorts – Folkestone, Weymouth and Looe, have been accorded the honour on the south coast.
It is anticipated that the event, to be staged after the town’s Remembrance Day activities, will attract a huge crowd as there are so few venues along the south coast and the town council has moved quickly to put arrangements in place to maximise Lyme’s profile.
Each event will centre around the drawing of a large-scale portrait of a casualty from the First World War, designed by sand artists, which will be washed away as the tide comes in. In addition, the public will be asked to join in by creating silhouettes of people in the sand, remembering the millions of lives lost or changed forever by the conflict.
Acclaimed poet Carol Ann Duffy has been invited by Boyle – who wowed critics across the world with his opening ceremony at the 2012 Olympic Games in London – to write a new poem which will be read by individuals, families and communities as they gather on the beaches on November 11.
In addition to volunteering on the day, workshops and events will be offered in the lead up to November 11 where individuals or groups will be able to find out more about the stories of the First World War or create material in response that can be shared on the beach on the day.
The events in Lyme and Weymouth will be led by Activate (Performing Arts), an organisation in Dorset focused on producing large scale outdoor performing arts, core funded by Dorset County Council.
‘Pages Of The Sea’ is part of 14-18 NOW, a programme of extraordinary arts experiences connecting people with the First World War, part of the UK’s official centenary commemorations. It commissions new work by leading contemporary artists across all art forms.
The programme has included more than 200 artists from 35 countries, taking place in 160 locations across the UK. Over 30 million people have experienced a project so far, including 7.5 million children and young people.
Lyme Regis Town Council was informed that Lyme had been selected as one of the beaches to host the event late last week and called a meeting of those who they thought could help stage and promote the prestigious event at the Lister Room, on Tuesday.
Those invited included representatives from the Royal British Legion, Lyme Regis Museum, the Woodroffe School and the Marine Theatre. It is hoped that talented artists from the Woodroffe School can be trained to create the image in the sand.
The council was represented by the Mayor, Councillor Michaela Ellis, Deputy Mayor Stephen Miller, Councillor Cheryl Reynolds, chairman of the Tourism, Community & Publicity Committee, town clerk John Wright, and operations manager Matt Adamson-Drage. Public relations expert Geoff Baker was also invited to assist with publicising the event.
After the meeting, he said: “The nearest other chosen beaches are Weymouth to the east and Looe to the west. This will be a fine way to honour those of your own families who never returned.
“I’m supporting this because five of my grandma’s siblings from Widworthy went to war and only one of them came home.”
With only three beaches in the West Country involved, Mr Baker believes that the event could attract a massive crowd to Lyme Regis and stressed the importance of getting the message out to all other towns in the area.
The town council has called another meeting for Monday, October 29.
Lyme Regis will also be taking part in the national ‘Battle’s Over’ events on November 11, including the lighting of a beacon on the North Wall at 7pm followed by bell ringing.
The town council is also looking for a piper and a bugle/cornet player to take part in events. Anyone able to help is asked to contact Matt Adamson-Drage on 01297 445175.