Legacy projects are about life and living. They are about learning from the past, living in the present, and building for the future. Research shows that without a sense of working to create a legacy we lose meaning in our life. Taking it from a purely practical standpoint, if you don't pass on your life experience by leaving a legacy, the wisdom you've gained through decades of difficult learning will disappear as your physical body wears out.
For both young and old, the power of legacy projects enables us to live fully in the present. You understand that you are part of a larger community, a community that must remember its history to build its future. Since our formation, in 2009, the Ancre Somme Association has been involved with, and been the lead partner, in various Legacy Projects. Each of these projects has enabled our communities to have a better understanding regarding both World Wars and subsequents wars and conflicts.
These projects have benefited a wide range of people. In particular, these projects have focused on young people. Giving them not just an understanding of their heritage but also giving them the opportunity to play an active role within projects and commemorations. With a history as rich as ours in the United Kingdom we are continually exploring various avenues that may result in an interesting legacy project.
The sad reality is that as each day passes we are losing part of our history. People will have passed on and thier stories have not been documented. Pictures will have faded and the memories are lost forever. It is our opinion that we would be failing future generations if these historical facts and artifacts were not preserved in print or in a digital format. Our legacy is determined by the actions we take today. Together we can help ensure that our history lives on through our children.
William McFadzean VC
On Saturday 13th October 2018 a bronze bust on a granite plinth was unveiled in Lurgan in memory of Private William Frederick McFadzean VC.
About the project.....
In 2018 the Ancre Somme Association established a working group that became known as the William McFadzean VC Commemoration Society. This working group then commissioned the renowned Scottish artist, Helen Runciman, to create a bronze bust, and 100 miniature cold cast busts, of William McFadzean.
Many months of meetings then took place with various groups and organisations to enable what was initially just an idea to become a lasting legacy to William.
Various fundraising ventures were also undertaken to raise the funds required. These were boosted with support from Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council and various local businesses.
Dedication and Unveiling......
The day finally arrived and although the weather was not being kind that did not deter the resolve of the organisers. The scene was set and it was now time for the event to get underway.
Guest started arriving from all four corners of Northern Ireland, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland. Special guests included the Great Great Nephew of William McFadzean, members of the Navy, Army, RAF, Police and the NI Fire and Rescue Service as well as many National, Regional and Local politicians.
Ancre Somme Association Honorary President, David Martin, commenced proceedings by introducing the Sarah Graham School of Highland Dance. The dancers were outstanding and although the conditions were not the best each one excelled in front of the watching crowd.
The Ancre Somme Association continually try to involve and educate young people regarding their British military history so they were honoured that so many Sea, Army and Marine Cadets, and their officer, then joined them on Parade.
Next to take to the stage were the magnificent Northern Ireland Military Wives Choir. The ladies sung three emotional songs including Bring Him Home, which seemed very poignant on the day that was. Just as the Military Wives Choir had finished their performance those in attendance welcomed the Pipes and Drums of the Royal Irish Regiment. The band were led on parade by the magnificent Brian Boru.
As the band finished playing everyone stood to welcome the Earl of Caledon, who is Her Majesty’s Representative in County Armagh who was accompanied by his Cadet. He was greeted by the Ancre Somme Association Patron Lt Col Ant Maher before being introduced to William’s Great Great Nephew.
Association Honorary President, David Martin, officially welcomed everyone to the days event before introducing the Reverend Alan McCann who led those in attendance in prayer. Association Patron, Lt Col Maher, then addressed the attendees giving an insight into the Association before paying tribute to the sacrifice made by William, and so many other men, on the 1st July 1916. It was then Association Chairman Mark Jameson who took to the stage and recited the poem, Soldier Boy McFadzean. This poem was written by fellow Association member Lexi Davidson.
The Pipes and Drums of the Royal Irish Regiment played a selection of tunes before the soloist, Rhonda Kennedy, took to the stage and gave an emotional performance as she sung the Ballad of William McFadzean.
David Martin then invited the Lord Lieutenant, Earl of Caledon, to unveil the memorial. The Lord Lieutenant unveiled the memorial and took the time to view the memorial and read the wording before the Reverend McCann orated the words of dedication and the prayer for remembrance.
There then followed a service of remembrance with the Bugler of 2 R Irish the last post and reveille. A wreath was then laid by two cadets from the Sea and Army Cadets. 10 year old ASA Mascot Cameron Davidson then recited Binyon’s Lines. The Reverend McCann gave the benediction, David Martin thanked all for their attendance and support before the event ended with the National Anthem.
Later in the day a reception was held in the historic setting that is Brownlow House where music was performed by a quintet from 2 R Irish. ASA Patron Lt Col Ant Maher took the opportunity to thank everyone who worked on the project. He then present a miniature bust to William’s Great Great Nephew. Commemorative coins were then presented to the Cadets, their officers and the band by Honorary Colonel Hubert McAllister and William’s Great Great Nephew.
Although this brought the proceedings to an end the Association are hopeful that this will just be the start of a legacy that will see young people learning about men like William McFadzean VC and the sacrifice they made the secured the freedom we all take for granted today.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank every one who helped with this project and supported unveiling especially the Lord Lieutenant Of Armagh, The McFadzean Family, the Sea, Army and Marine Cadets, Pipes & Drums of the Royal Irish Regiment, Quintet Of 2 R Irish, Sarah Graham School Of Highland Dance, NI Military Wives Choir, Rhonda Kennedy, Cameron Davidson, Helen Runciman, Grail PR, Mid Ulster Granite, Arlene Foster MLA, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP, David Simpson MP, Carol Walker MBE, Councillors and Council of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, BNL Productions, Ashley Forbes, Brownlow House and every single person who has supported this project over the past 18 months.
A special thank you must go to Carla Lockhart MLA. Your help and support helped make the impossible possible.
Private William Frederick McFadzean VC will be remembered now and forevermore.
Ribbon of Poppies UK & Commonwealth
The aim of this annual campaign is to raise community awareness, especially that of the younger generation, regarding the impact of conflicts on previous generations through various interactive projects.
Sowing the seeds of Remembrance is a simple way to engage with young people. This will help them understand and recognise the sacrifice made by the British, Commonwealth and Allied Forces and ensure that their bravery, both past and present, is never forgotten.
The Ribbon of Poppies UK & Commonwealth campaign has already had pledges from Scout, Cub, Guide, Brownie, Boys Brigade and Cadet groups across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as well as a number of schools, councils and community organisations.
In addition we would ask you to consider planting out verges and hedgerows with wild flowers, incorporating the poppy, so that people travelling through your area will be reminded daily of the sacrifice paid so that we can live in peace.
Permission may need to be obtained to plant in these areas but cutting less, cutting later will save your council money and it will also help bring back the multitude of bees, butterflies, birds and bugs that are sadly disappearing from our countryside.
"Sowing the seeds of Remembrance - Generation to Generation"
Veterans With Dogs
Ancre Somme Association presents a cheque for £2,000 to the VETERANS WITH DOGS charity.
Veterans With Dogs trains and provides assistance dogs exclusively for current and former members of the British Armed Forces with service-related mental health conditions.
They specialise in providing trained assistance dogs for Veterans with mental health difficulties. Their goal is to improve quality of life and help lead independent lives by training assistance dogs in task-specific skills.
The money was raised from the kind donations we received from our packets of Remembrance Poppy Seeds from those who pledged their support to our Ribbon of Poppies UK & Commonwealth 2019 campaign.
If you would like to learn more about the fantastic work being carried out by the Veterans With Dogs Charity please visit
We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone, from all four corners of the United Kingdom, for the support they have shown this great cause.
Letters From The Front
Letters From The Front was a short drama that was produced by members of the Ancre Somme Association in conjunction with the Engaging in Good Relations Team and funded by the Peace III Programme.
The purpose of the drama was to help educate, and give an understanding, regarding the sacrifice paid by our forefathers using our ongoing studies and research of the historical findings derived from the events preceding, surrounding and following the Battle of the Somme on the 1st July 1916.
The opening scene of the drama is set in the Harland & Wolff Shipyard in 1914 where you are introduced to the main characters in the drama in particular Big Sam Evans.
The drama follows Sam's story from a young care free boy working in the shipyard in Belfast as he grows into a man and a soldier who experiences the hell that was trench warfare in France during World War One.
During the play we heard the harrowing story of Jennie who experienced the horrors of war as she volunteered as a nurse in a field hospital during World War One. As Jennie writes home we heard the powerful words sent to her mother explaining what she had witnessed as she treated those injured in battle.
The phrase "going over the top" came into being in WW1 and during the drama you will see the men pray as they prepared to go over the top and cross "No Man's Land". An act that would undoubtedly see so many young men cut down in their prime.
The drama concludes with a moving tribute to all those, of all faiths, who paid the ultimate sacrifice that secured the freedoms that we have today.
This drama was performed to full houses in Brownlow House, Magheralin Parish Church Hall and Craigavon Civic Centre.
Remembering the Somme
This film was launched in Craigavon Civic Centre. The event was hosted by the Deputy Lord Mayor of Armagh,
Banbridge & Craigavon Borough Council, Councillor Paul Greenfield.
This film marks the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of the Somme by looking into the past through the perspective of citizens today and reflecting on how this historic event continues to impact our future.
The film also highlights the importance of commemorating and giving respect towards the many who lost their lives during this brutal but poignant battle.
This project was funded by Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Coucil and produced by BNL Productions. Their expertise has created a superb educational film that follows the emotional pilgrimage of members of the association as they embark on the same journey made by their relatives over 100 years ago.
It's hoped that this film can be used to help educate and inform as well as create a lasting legacy regarding the Centenary of the Battle of the Somme and the visit by the members of the Ancre Somme Associations to the battlefields of France and Belgium.
Michael Willetts GC
Sergeant Michael Willetts, GC (13 August 1943 – 25 May 1971) was one of the first British soldiers to be killed during the Troubles in Northern Ireland, and the recipient of a posthumous George Cross for his heroism in saving lives during the Provisional Irish Republican Army bombing which claimed his own. The Harvey Andrews song "Soldier" commemorates Willetts' sacrifice.
Willetts was killed in Springfield Road RUC station by the Provisional IRA. A man in his mid-twenties emerged from a car and threw a suitcase containing a blast bomb into the lobby of the station. Willetts thrust two children and two adults into a corner and stood above them as the 30 lbs of explosives detonated, seriously injuring him. Seven RUC officers, two British soldiers and eighteen civilians were injured in the attack. Willetts was fatally injured by a chunk of metal from a locker which had struck him in the back of the head. As he was being removed by ambulance, he and the injured officers were jeered by local youths who screamed obscenities at them. Willetts died after two hours on the operating table at Royal Victoria Hospital.
The George Cross was awarded to Sergeant Willett's widow in June and the citation appeared in the London Gazette at the same time.
The Queen has been graciously pleased to approve the posthumous award of the George Cross to:
23910067 Sergeant Michael WILLETTS, The Parachute Regiment.
At 8.24 p.m. on the evening of 25th May 1971, a terrorist entered the reception hall of the Springfield Road Police Station in Belfast. He carried a suitcase from which a smoking fuse protruded, dumped it quickly on the floor and fled outside. Inside the room were a man and a woman, two children and several police officers. One of the latter saw at once the smoking case and raised the alarm. The Police Officers began to organise the evacuation of the hall past the reception desk, through the reception office and out by a door into the rear passage.
Sergeant Michael Willetts was on duty in the inner hall. Hearing the alarm, he sent an N.C.O. up to the first floor to warn those above and hastened himself to the door towards which a Police Officer was thrusting those in the reception hall and office. He held the door open while all passed safely through and then stood in the doorway, shielding those taking cover. In the next moment, the bomb exploded with terrible force.
Sergeant Willetts was mortally wounded. His duty did not require him to enter the threatened area: his post was elsewhere. He knew well, after 4 months service in Belfast, the peril of going towards a terrorist bomb but he did not hesitate to do so. All those approaching the door from the far side agree that if they had had to check to open the door they would have perished. Even when they had reached the rear passage, Sergeant Willetts waited, placing his body as a screen to shelter them. By this considered act of bravery, he risked - and lost - his life for those of the adults and children. His selflessness, his courage are beyond praise. 22nd June 1971.
To mark the 50th Anniversary of his passing, on the 25th June 2021, the Ancre Somme Association held a short service in the grounds of Brownlow House, Lurgan.
The Association also planted a tree and unveiled a plaque in memory of Sergeant Michael Willetts GC.
One of the most fabled moments from the First World War was re-enacted at an Irish League Football ground in Northern Ireland.
The football match that reportedly took place in no-man’s-land, between Allies and German soldiers marking a Christmas in 1914, was recreated at Mourneview Park, Lurgan on 16th December 2016.
The charity commemoration was in aid of the Poppy Appeal and involved a team of veteran footballers from Northern Ireland going up against the 2 R Irish.
The veterans’ line-up included former Glenavon strikers Stephen McBride and Raymond McCoy and ex-manager Terry Nicholson.
Before the game kicked off members of the Ancre Somme Association carried out a re-enacted of the Christmas Truce. During the re-enactment the choir from Lurgan College sang Stille Nacht before an act of remembrance was held by Lurgan & Brownlow Royal British Legion.
The Pipes and Drums of the Royal Irish Regiment led the teams onto the pitch and then played again during the half time interval.
Like many football teams, and other sporting organisation, Glenavon Football Club, where the match was played, had many who served and died during the Great War. We thought something linked to the football would be a worthy event and one that would engage with the younger generation.
The Ancre Somme Association worked in partnership with the Royal British Legion to organise this event. The initial idea was a football match between the Ancre Somme Association and the Royal British Legion. That idea grew and spiralled into what was a magnificent event which raised much needed funds for the Poppy Appeal.
As well as the many local school children who attended this event we were also honoured to have in attendance the First Minster of Northern Ireland as well as Colonel Hubert McAllister, Honorary Colonel of 2nd Battalion the Royal Irish Regiment.
This worthwhile cause really captured the imagination of the whole community and gave them a better upstanding of the sacrifice that was made by many sportsmen during the Great War.
AA Veterans Support
The Ancre Somme Association were honoured to presented a cheque for £500, on behalf of the whole Association, to AA Veterans Support.
The picture shows ASA Honorary President David Martin presenting the cheque to Andy Allen MBE.
In 2006 at the age of 17 Andy Allen joined the 1st Battalion the Royal Irish Regiment. Andy deployed to Afghanistan with 1 Royal Irish in March 2008,where on the 14th July 2008 he was severely injured by a Taliban Improvised Eplosive Device. The force of the blast tore off Andy's right leg, badly damaged his left leg and his eyes.
Andy was stabilised and flown to Selly Oak Hospital, Birmingham where the doctors and nurses fought to save his life. Ten day after being brought into Selly Oak Andy's left leg had to be amputated.
During his own recovery process Andy identified a number of areas where support for Service Personnel, Veterans and their families living could be improved. In 2011 with the help of a number of other Veterans Andy setup his own service charity 'AA Veterans Support'.
For further information visit www.aavsni.com
Victory on the Homefront
Victory On The Homefront Booklet
The purpose of this booklet is to remember those brave British soldiers who were killed in Dublin during the 1916 Rebellion.
The booklet is dedicated to Lurgan man Second Lieutenant James H Calvert of the 6th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles. James was gunned down by rebels on Monday 24th April 1916 and is buried in Seagoe Cemetery in Portadown.
We hope that you will share in our belief that it is important that the British soldiers named in this booklet should and must be remembered, just as those who died in foreign lands are remembered.
The sacrifice made by Britain’s Gallant Sons during this period of time in history ensured that German guns were silenced not just on the Western Front but also the Homefront.
For more details click the link below
ULSTER TOWER COLLECTION
We are always looking for people from a variety of backgrounds who feel they have something to give to the Ancre Somme Association. Our Volunteers are of all ages and backgrounds. There is no specific experience required to becoming a Volunteer. All you need is a passion to support our Charity.
As a small charity, Volunteers are vital to us to help raise our profile - and awareness - throughout the UK. If you would like to become a member why not send us a message today.
Ancre Somme Association
Email: [email protected]