A HERITAGE group has won more than £50,000 in funding for a project aimed at making sure the sacrifices of the Great War are never forgotten.

Basildon Heritage Group has been given £50,600 of Heritage Lottery Fund cash towards its ambitious Forget Never, Oublier Jamais, Vergessen Niemals project.

The group plans to focus on life in south Essex during the war, and also at the way people lived in Basildon’s twin towns Meaux, France and Heiligenhaus, Germany.

Heritage group chairman Ken Porter said: “It’s absolutely fantastic.

“We have been working quietly for a couple of years, but now we’ve got the grant, we can really expand our ideas and get going.

“I’m pleased for everyone in the heritage group, because they’ve put a lot of hard work in and to see something like this come to fruition is brilliant.

“This is really going to put us in the spotlight.”

The project is being run next to the Laboratory art studio, based in Wat Tyler Park, Pitsea, and will include re-enactments of a cricket match played in Wickford on the eve of the war in 1914 and the football matches famously played in no-man’s land on the first Boxing Day of the war.

Youngsters from Basildon will also travel to Germany to take part in a youth conference to commemorate the centenary.

Residents from Basildon, Meaux and Heiligenhaus are also being asked to contribute photos, letters, artifacts, artwork and true stories handed down by relatives.

The material will then be put on show in a special exhibition.

The heritage group particularly wants to learn more about local people who fought in the war.

Lisa Smith, who runs the Laboratory, is also acting as project manager for the initiative.

She said: “It’s fantastic we’ve got the funding. It means we can get the project up and running.

“We’re looking forward to working with all generations.”

Stephen Metcalfe, MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, said: “I am delighted the Heritage Lottery Fund has recognised the unique nature of this project.

“I’m confident we will create something to provide a lasting legacy to commemorate the historic events of 100 years ago."