Royal Visit to Folkestone Announced
News that HRH Prince Harry will be the guest of honour at the First World War Centenary event in Folkestone on 4 August has been warmly welcomed by all those involved in the project.
The Step Short charity has been working on a programme of educational and commemorative events to mark the centenary for the past seven years.
Prince Harry will visit the town to ‘unveil’ a commemorative arch being erected on the Leas in memory of the millions of people – men and women, Red Cross nurses and soldiers – who passed through the port of Folkestone en route to or from the Western front from 1915 onwards.
The charity has had support and financial backing from Shepway District Council and Kent County Council as well as funding from the Roger De Haan Charitable Trust and many others.
While the dedication of the arch on 4 August will be the centerpiece of the commemorations and attract national interest, Step Short has been working on a number of other educational and community projects.
The charity has created a life-sized character called Private Touch Wud Sweetheart who will be helping children to understand Folkestone’s role in the First World War and the bravery of the men and women who journeyed to the battlefields from Folkestone.
MP Damian Collins, who has been chairman of Step Short since it was set up, said: “We are honoured that Prince Harry will be the guest of honour on 4 August at the ceremony to mark the opening of the First World War centenary memorial arch in Folkestone.
“The arch stands over the route taken by millions of service personnel on their journey to the war. It has been built in memory of their sacrifices and in recognition of the role played by Folkestone in the war effort as an important port of embarkation to and from the western front.
“The unveiling of the memorial arch, designed by Philip Gearing of Foster Gearing, will be the culmination of seven years of work by the Folkestone Step Short project, which was set up by members of the local community.
“On behalf of Step Short I would like to thank Shepway District Council and Kent County Council, who have given great support to the project as a whole and helped with funding for the construction of the arch.
“We would also like to thank the Roger De Haan Charitable Trust for its support, as well as Lend Lease, the international property company, which has donated its services free of charge to project manage the construction.
Cllr David Monk, leader of Shepway District Council, said the announcement that Prince Harry would attend the arch unveiling “underlines its resonance with the majority of the public and shows how nationally important it is.”
He said the Step Short project was “all about creating a continuing reminder of the enormity of the sacrifices made during the First World War.”