Heroes of Yesterday Raising Funds for Heroes of Today.

On the 1 July 1916, the whistle blew and 19240 men went over the top and lost their lives in the first 4 hours of the Battle of the Somme, a number that remains the worst casualty figure for one day in British military history to date.

Robert Heard, a South West artist, was inspired and moved by the fate of these brave men following life-changing events of his own. With the support and vision of his friend Steve Knightley, of the musical group, Show of Hands, the 19240 Shrouds of the Somme idea was born and presented to the City of Exeter.

The 19240 project was officially launched at the Guildhall, Exeter, the oldest, still working, civic building in the country, supported by VIP members of the community, including the Lord Mayor, City Councillors, senior business partners. The Royal British Legion and The Exeter Foundation are the major charity beneficiaries.

Robert Heard is working to personally create all 19240 shrouded figures to build an art installation and permanent sculpture of major impact, to represent each one of the men who fell on July 1st 1916 for us all to commemorate their bravery, to raise charitable funds for our military hero’s of today.

On July 1st 2016, at 7.30am, the gates of Northernhay Gardens in Exeter, will be opened to the public to reveal for the first time this major art installation, designed to stir compassion and understanding of the tragic events that happened in 1916.

‘This project is all about remembrance for those who lost their lives at the Battle Of The Somme and the Great War. It’s also about inspiring communities and creating a legacy for the future. Thirdly, this is about creating an educational resource that can be accessed by anyone interested in learning more about the events in July 1916 .Our evolving website will include the most comprehensive database of the men who fell on the first day of the battle. We envisage the site becoming a major lasting legacy and resource.’ Explained Jake Moores, OBE DL, President of the Royal British Legion Devon.

The project will be fundraising throughout the next 11 months including a major Commemorative Dinner & Entertainment Evening to be held in the city on October 30th 2015, to help raise the money to fund the creation of the installation as well as providing funds to our major beneficiaries and local and national military charities.

To find out how to get involved in this amazing project and search for a family member, please visit www.thesomme19240.co.uk


Editors Notes

  1. Robert Heard is an emerging artist based in the South West with a strong affinity with Exeter. Robert suffered injuries after a serious car crash in which has prevented him working as a wood sculptor. Facing the consequences of his injuries, he became interested in the Somme and became inspired to commemorate the fallen while enduring the pain in his hands that stitching the shrouds will cause.
  2. Steve Knightley – is the founder and musical artist from the folk band Show of Hands. Show of Hands are undeniably one of the strongest current forces in acoustic music – England’s finest and most popular roots duo and something of a “people’s band”.
  3. The Exeter Foundation is a charity based at Exeter Chiefs, Sandy Park, created to provide the city of Exeter and surrounding areas with a ‘civic trust’ that will promote our community. The Foundation acts as a fundraising body, comprises leading businessmen led by Tony Rowe, OBE of South West Telecommunications and has raised over £600k to date for community based projects.
  4. The 19240 Shrouds of the Somme committee is led by Mr. Jake Moores, OBE, DL. President of the Royal British Legion Devon.
  5. Project launch images available on request.


Committee Members are:

Robert Heard – Artist

Capt. William Kelsall RCMO – 6th Battalion Rifles

Steve Knightley – Show of Hands

John Street – Corporate Manager Democratic & Civic Support, Exeter City Council

Emara Roth – Lord Mayor Support Officer, Exeter City Council

Very Rev’d Dr Jonathon Draper – Dean of Exeter Cathedral

Prof Henry French BA PhD Cantab, FRHistS – Exeter University

Grace Williams – Exeter University

Adam Stone – Rokk Media

Mel Bradley MBE

Media contact:

Alexis Bowater
Bowater Communications
T: 07786 362454
E: Alexis@Bowatercommunications.co.uk