Portstewart and Downhill beaches taking part in WW1 tribute

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Portstewart Strand and Downhill Beach will join over 30 beaches across the UK and Ireland on Sunday, November 11, for Pages of the Sea, Danny Boyle’s commission for 14-18 NOW to mark the centenary of Armistice Day.

The event is an informal, gesture of remembrance for the millions of men and women who left their home shores during the First World War, many never to return.

It will be delivered by the Nerve Centre and National Trust, in partnership with Big Telly Theatre Company, Stendhal Festival, UV Arts, Artlink and Live Music Now.

Portstewart Strand

Between 12pm and 3.30pm, Big Telly Theatre Company are inviting people onto Portstewart Strand to help them create an artwork in the sand using stencils of portraits. Actors dressed as First World War soldiers can be spotted around the town and a free shuttle bus service will run every 20 minutes from the Promenade in Portstewart town centre to the Strand.

The National Trust is offering free car parking on the beach with hot drinks and refreshments available from Harry’s Shack.

Downhill Beach

The day will finish on Downhill Beach with a large 30m square portrait of First World War Nurse, Rachel Ferguson being completed at 2pm. Rachel was the daughter of John Stewart Ferguson and Annie Ferguson, of Lanebrooke House, Moneymore, County Derry. She died on June 26, 1918 at Bordighera, Italy, whilst working for Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service. She is buried in Bordighera British Cemetery, Italy.

Members of the public will have a spectacular view of the portrait from Mussenden Temple and Downhill Demesne with Stendhal Festival and Live Music Now providing music from 2-4pm in the Temple.

Free car parking is available on Downhill Beach with free admission to Downhill Demesne and Mussenden Temple. A shuttle bus service will run every 15 minutes, from Downhill Beach to the Lion’s Gate at Downhill Demesne, just a ten minute walk from Mussenden Temple.

Poet Carol Ann Duffy has been invited by Boyle to write a new poem, which will be read by individuals, families and communities as they gather on the beaches on November 11. Copies of the poem are available online and will be available at the beaches for those who wish to come together or to offer their own personal contribution.

At the launch of Pages of the Sea, Danny Boyle said: “Beaches are truly public spaces, where nobody rules other than the tide. They seem the perfect place to gather and say a final goodbye and thank you to those whose lives were taken or forever changed by the First World War. I’m inviting people to watch as the faces of the fallen are etched in the sand, and for communities to come together to remember the sacrifices that were made.”

The public is invited to explore an online gallery of portraits of some of the men and women who served in the First World War, and select someone to thank and say a personal goodbye to either via social media or as they gather in person on beaches on November 11 at www.pagesofthesea.org.uk.

The images are drawn from the Imperial War Museum’s ‘Lives of the First World War’ which aims to tell 8 million stories of those who served from Britain and the Commonwealth. Visitors to the website can also add their own portraits of members of their family or community who contributed to the First World War. www.livesofthefirstworldwar.org