New Portsmouth paving stones will honour Victoria Cross recipients

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A SERIES of paving stones will recognise those who received the highest military decoration during the First World War.

Portsmouth City Council agreed to set up a group to focus on the commemoration of Victoria Cross recipients, as part of a national programme.

Executive member for culture and leisure Cllr Lee Hunt, gave the go-ahead for the group at his latest decision meeting, ahead of the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War later this year.

Sue Wright, Lest We Forget Project Co-ordinator, said: ‘This campaign is about placing specially-designed paving stones at places of birth of all Victoria Cross recipients from the city. In effect, this decision is to set up a working group to look at the implications of the locations.’

She added there are four recipients who would qualify for the stones – two 
from Southsea, one from Landport, and one from Portsea – but there are a further four recipients who although not born in Portsmouth had very strong links to the city.

The stones will be part of a £97,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund that is funding Portsmouth Museum Service’s Lest We Forget community project to commemorate the First World War.

The design of the stones was chosen last November, through a national competition, and the winner – Charlie MacKeith from London – was unveiled by the Communities Secretary Eric Pickles.

The circular design uses the material, form and lettering of the family of memorials used by the War Graves Commission and incorporates a QR code that people will be able to scan using smartphones to find out more about the Victoria Cross recipient.

The stones will go into more then 400 place nationwide, with the first one laid in August.

Cllr Hunt raised concerns over the stones becoming ‘memorials’ and of the inferences of walking over them.

He said: ‘It could be seen as disrespectful.

‘It has to be in a particular location and there needs to be work done at those locations to help people understand their meaning.’

Cllr Hunt will consider the installation options later this year.