Churchill 2015 – a major international celebration to commemorate the life of Britain’s greatest statesman Sir Winston Churchill – was launched yesterday.
Major events in the year include:
* a remembrance service and wreath laying ceremony at the Houses of Parliament,
* a brand new Churchill Central website launched to help keep his legacy fresh,
* a retracing of his funeral with the Havengore vessel, which carried his coffin retracing its journey down the Thames,
* Churchill’s Scientists exhibition to open at the Science Museum.
The initiatives come 50 years after his death, 60 years after his final resignation as prime minister, and 75 years after his ‘finest hour’ leading the fight against fascism in 1940.
During a press conference at the Churchill War Rooms, historian and Chairman of the Churchill 2015 Executive Committee Sir David Cannadine announced a host of educational and cultural activity set to take place throughout the year to commemorate Churchill’s achievements.
All activities centre around three main themes:
In order to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Churchill’s state funeral, a series of events will take place on Friday, January 30:
In the morning, the Houses of Parliament will host a remembrance service and wreath laying ceremony
The Havengore vessel, will retrace its journey down the Thames, taking the same route at the same time of day as 50 years previously. Forming part of a small flotilla, the Havengore will pass under Tower Bridge, which will be raised in honour of Sir Winston at 12.45, continuing its journey past HMS Belfast, under Blackfriars Bridge and Waterloo Bridge, passing the London Eye and culminating in a service and wreath laying in the waters directly opposite the Palace of Westminster at 13.15.
In the evening a special ceremony will take place at Westminster Abbey with readings from Sir David Cannadine and The Hon. Celia Sandys on behalf of the Churchill family.
In York, a special tribute will see the National Railway Museum reuniting 34051 Winston Churchill, the locomotive which pulled the funeral train, with the baggage van that was used to transport Churchill’s coffin and the luxurious Pullman carriage that carried family and funeral guests.
Other activity includes the launch of new commemorative coins by The Royal Mint, as Sir Winston becomes the only statesman in British history to have two UK coins created in his honour.
Stamp collections will be issued by the Isle of Man Post Office, Guernsey and Jersey. Royal Mail has already brought out a Churchill stamp as part of a series on Prime Ministers.
A host of exhibitions and events will take place as part of Churchill 2015.
The Science Museum’s Churchill’s Scientists exhibition will open on Friday, January 23, telling the little-known story of how Churchill’s fascination with science led to the scientific achievements that helped Britain win the Second World War.
In the UK, other exhibitions include Death of a Hero at Sir Winston’s family home of Chartwell, now cared for by the National Trust, featuring a number of never-before-seen-items from personal family mementoes to commemorative gifts and the reinvigorated Churchill Exhibition and new memorial garden at his birthplace Blenheim Palace, both celebrating the life and times of Sir Winston Churchill.
Internationally, the Musée de l’Armée in Paris opens its Churchill–de Gaulle exhibition in April, exploring the relationship between these two great figures while the National Churchill Museum in Fulton, Missouri is set to announce its 2015 Churchill Weekend, featuring a series of lectures in the Church of St. Mary.
To ensure that Churchill’s legacy remains, organisations will deliver new and enhanced programmes focusing on leadership, debate and public speaking. serving as a unique and enduring online legacy.
Speaking about the launch, Prime Minister David Cameron, said: “Half a century after his death, Winston Churchill’s legacy continues to inspire not only the nation whose liberty he saved, but the entire world. His words and his actions reverberate through our national life today. 2015 is a year to remember Winston Churchill’s extraordinary life of achievement, to admire and to celebrate it anew and to give thanks for his service not only to the country he loved, but to humanity as a whole.”
Emma Soames, granddaughter of Winston Churchill and speaking at the press conference on behalf of the Churchill family, said: “To me growing up he was a grandfather, but I came to realise at his death that he was so much more than that. The family are absolutely delighted that his life is being celebrated and his legacy expanded.”
See Your Hols’ top Churchill sites in the UK here