Past and Present Project – Charity calls for people to research the fallen to commemorate Remembrance Day in their local area

Three war graves for Royal Navy personnel who all died in 1915

Project Nova, a national initiative to support veterans, is calling on ex-Forces and members of the public alike, to undertake research into identifying and visiting local war graves in their area, known as the ‘Past and Present Project’, as a way of commemorating Remembrance Day this year.

The call comes after clients of Project Nova had asked how they could be involved in Remembrance Day, as many of the planned public activities had had to be dramatically scaled back owing to the coronavirus pandemic.

In response, the Project Nova team is encouraging people to take part in the ‘Past and Present Project’. To get involved, people are asked to find war graves in their local area and information about the veteran buried there, followed by visiting and surveying the grave (including taking photographs of its condition), before sending their findings back to Project Nova. Everyone to take part will receive a free limited edition Past and Present notebook.*

Currently, over 4,000 images have been submitted by veterans taking part in the initiative. The information gathered is then offered to The Commonwealth War Graves Commission, an organisation dedicated to honouring the 1.7 million men and women of the Commonwealth forces who died in the First and Second World Wars, by maintaining cemeteries at 23,000 locations all over the world. The reports are also offered to the British War Graves Photographic Project, which provides free of charge images to family members, researchers etc.

Project Nova’s National Manager, Colin Back, says:

“We began this project during lockdown, as we found it to be a great activity for veterans to undertake to keep both their minds and bodies busy with something productive. This proved a real success for those who were experiencing feelings of isolation. As Remembrance will look very different this year owning to Covid restrictions, this is a brilliant way for veterans, and the public alike, to feel connected with the fallen in their local area. It also offers the opportunity to give something back in a practical way, to ensure the memory of these veterans will never be forgotten.

“This initiative would not have been possible without the help of the Armed Forces Covenant Trust who have funded this through the Positive Pathways Project – we are extremely grateful to them for their generous support.”

This project has been a lifeline for me. It’s given me an opportunity to reconnect with other veterans and pay my respects to others for their Service. I’ve learnt so much, it’s helped me with my computer skills and I’ve stopped feeling so isolated. It’s great to feel part of a team. Thank you Project Nova!

Murray

Project Nova, delivered in partnership between RFEA and Walking With The Wounded, is there to offer help to those who have been arrested and enter Police Custody. It also supports Veterans who are referred by specialist Police teams (including NHS Liaison and Diversion Teams), or other statutory organisations, because they are at risk of arrest. The scheme was launched in 2014 and currently operates across South Yorkshire and Humberside, the North East, North West and East of England.

To get involved, email sarah.shepherd@projectnova.org.uk or visit the Past and Present Facebook group.

*Notebooks available while stocks last.