This week we are launching our ‘Pennies for our Heroes’ appeal in a bid to raise enough money to plant ‘memorial trees’ to honour our World War One heroes as we mark the centenary of the outbreak of World War One.
We are calling on readers to donate their small change, the sort we all collect in a jam jars, as we know how tight times are, so we can plant fitting reminders in parks in Ripley, Heanor and Alfreton.
We hope to raise enough to install plaques by the trees in much the same way as we did in 2012, when we successfully planted three established oaks in each of the towns to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
We have teamed up with Amber Valley Borough Council, which has agreed to source the trees and arrange for the planting to be carried out.
The authority has also kindly agreed to allow readers to drop off their coin-filled jam jars in the reception of its headquarters at Market Place, Ripley, during opening hours.
The council’s cabinet member for environment Cllr Peter Makin, said he was happy to be backing the cause. He said: “In certain quarters there’s a feeling that it’s time to draw a line on the First World War after 100 years.
“But when you consider that our children are the future – it’s of utter importance they have some form of remembrance in the town to act as a form of reminder.
“If you don’t know where you’ve come from, how on earth do you know where you are going?”
Richard Hodgkinson, from the council’s landscape services department, said: “We are always keen for members of the public to get involved in funds for memorials like this.
“They will be planted in a great location for local residents to come along and see what their donations paid for.”
The News will also be working alongside the Ripley Royal British Legion to which aims to tell the ‘human story’ of the brave local soldiers who served in the war.
The branch aims to install a lasting interactive memorial to World War One at Crossley Park by the end of the year in and around the pavilion.
Throughout 2014 it is gathering as much information as it can on those who fought in the ‘Great War’ from our towns, with the aim of featuring some of that information on the memorial.
And this is where Newsreaders come in again.
As well as your donations we want you contact us with any information you can provide on those who served during World War One.
This means photographs, newspaper clippings, stories, diary entries – even letters – by those individuals that went to fight, and in many cases gave their lives.
Be you a relative or keen amateur historian we are asking you to get in touch with us via email, phone or by letter. Details of how to do so are below.
Chairman of Ripley’s British Legion Dean Fowler said it is important to never forget the bravery of our World War One heroes.
He said: “Freedom, democracy and life. That’s what they gave to us.”
The Ripley branch will be holding a different event each month during 2014 to mark the centenary.