£1 million boost for war memorials

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War memorials across Deeside and Donside will be in line for a share of a new £1 million restoration fund.

The Scottish Government announced this week that a new Centenary Memorials Restoration Fund is to be made available to communities across the country.

Scotland’s war memorials will be cleaned and restored in readiness for the centenary commemorations of the First World War in 2014.

The move was welcomed by Chairman of the Banchory branch of the British Legion Alistair Black, who’s grandfathers fought in the 1914-1918 conflict: “This is a marvellous contribution by the Scottish Government for such a poignant and worthy cause. Memorials are currently looked after by many different groups such as the Council, Royal British legion Scotland, Communities and in some cases individuals, there are some very good memorials and some in need of restoration which of course costs money.

Alistair said the funding would bring the memorials back to standard and honour the “ultimate sacrifice” of the fallen: “(The) announcement... by the First Minister will provide that funding through Heritage Scotland and bring the memorials back to a standard of excellence worthy of the ultimate sacrifice that those men and women gave in order for us to enjoy the freedom that we cherish today.”

Aberdeenshire West MSP Dennis Robertson said:“I am delighted that an additional £1 million for the Centenary Memorials Restoration Fund announced by First Minister Alex Salmond... will pay for the upgrade and maintenance of memorials in villages and towns across Scotland that pay tribute to those who gave their lives during both world wars and other conflicts.

He added: “The new fund is to help people in communities across Scotland to continue to pay their respects to those who fell during conflict through the upkeep of war memorials.

The Piper previously reported on the search for memorabilia by local history groups in the run-up to the centenary commemorations.

The Great War, as it was known, was fought from 1914 until an armistice was signed on 11 November 1918.

Brutal trench warfare was a hallmark of the conflict and between 9 and 15 million men died in battlefields like the Somme and Ypres.

Every town and village has a memorial to the men who died in what was the greatest loss of life ever suffered by the British military.

The MSP noted that the centenary would not be a “celebration but a commemoration”: “The events in 2014 to mark the anniversary of the outbreak of the Great War will not be a celebration in Scotland, but a commemoration of the servicemen and women who paid the ultimate price in defence of our country.”