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Published on : Tuesday, July 28, 2015
Despite more people travelling to the Battlefields than ever before, a recent poll by Leger Holidays surprisingly suggests that UK awareness for the World Wars is in decline.
Research undertaken by the escorted tour operator shows that a third of people (29 per cent) weren’t even aware that 2014 was the start of the centenary of the first world war. Half of people surveyed also claimed to know nothing about the First World War and 3million* say they’ve never even heard of it.
As the UK’s leading Battlefields tour operator with expert guides in the field week-in, week-out, Leger Holidays has partnered up with family history and archive experts Findmypast, to encourage people to research and upload their stories and help complete more of their digital database – beyond the centenary and anniversaries.
Paul Reed, Head Battlefields Guide, Leger Holidays, said: “I was shocked by this recent poll and still can’t believe the findings which say that interest in dying. I would actually say it is higher than ever before but we are in danger of not harnessing the recent interest and ensuring it spreads across all audiences and age groups. With so many special Battlefield anniversaries in recent times Britons have been given a reason to engage and the feedback has been astounding. Our challenge is now to embrace that and ensure the message is heard throughout the year, not just when a historic date is pending.”
The Leger Holidays research also revealed that over a third (37 per cent) don’t know if any family members were involved in the First World War.The campaign is therefore asking people to dig deep and find out more about their ancestors, to share their memories and keep the knowledge of these important events going – beyond the centenary period. Through Findmypast, people can access hundreds of millions of original records from the period and find stories about ancestors through British newspaper archives.
Huw Williams, Marketing Director at Leger Holidays said: “Our research is surprisingly contradictory to what we at Leger have seen first-hand, particularly following last year’s high profile centenary events. With the research showing that knowledge has declined, there are clearly still groups of people who need educating on the importance and relevance of the wars and with this in mind we want to spread the message. It is our job, alongside Findmypast to ensure we engage with those people who don’t have the knowledge and the awareness and we hope to build on this throughout the rest of the centenary period and beyond.”
Myko Clelland, Family Historian at Findmypast, said: “The fact that so many people aren’t aware of their family history in the wars gives us more reasons to encourage them to look into this further. We find that people get a great sense of fulfillment when they find out the history behind their family, and even more so when they find out their great-grandfather or great-uncle fought for their country. We look forward to seeing people share their stories.”