Sheffield was given a call to action today to back plans for a major commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the Blitz in the city.
The Star is backing a campaign to ensure that the full story of the terrible loss of life and damage to the city centre in the dark days of December 1940 is told.
Hitler’s Luftwaffe caused mayhem when they rained bombs down on the city in two nights of attacks that will never be forgotten by those who witnessed them.
Star readers can get involved by helping to raise £15,000 towards the cost of a memorial trail – but we only have a short time to do it.
Sheffield author Neil Anderson, who is spearheading the campaign, said: “The people of Sheffield have just over a month to help make plans to mark the 75th anniversary of the Sheffield Blitz a reality.
“We need their donations to ensure the sacrifices made in December 1940 are never forgotten.
“We are giving individuals and businesses a once in a lifetime opportunity to ‘own’ part of our plans through the help they provide.
“We will ensure their names become part of the legacy of Sheffield Blitz 75th anniversary which will live on the city for decades to come.
The centrepiece of the project will be the Sheffield Blitz Memorial Trail.
Up to 16 sites around the city centre have been earmarked for the installation of high quality, permanent memorial plaques.
The site of the original Marples Hotel in Fitzalan Square which was destroyed on December 12, 1940 will finally get a memorial befitting a war grave (there are still bodies buried here) and be a key part of the trail, said Neil.
Other sites include Sheffield City Hall, which still bears shrapnel scars, and The Moor, which was virtually flattened in the attacks.
Each plaque will tell a different part of the Sheffield Blitz story and include a sculptured scene that depicts events unique to that area.
But, more importantly, they will give people the chance to have the names of loved ones inscribed into them as a permanent memorial to the attacks.
Neil started the drive for more to commemorate the attacks following the publication of his book, Sheffield’s Date With Hitler, in 2010.
He has now teamed up with project manager Richard Godley and heritage interpreter Bill Bevan and the trio are submitting a Heritage Lottery Fund bid to secure finances to ensure the sacrifices made by tens of thousands of Sheffield people are never forgotten.
But they need to gather additional funds to ensure their far-reaching plans are successful and are keen to give Sheffield people the chance to have a personal stake in the project.
Neil said: “When the BBC turned my book into a documentary they called it Sheffield The Forgotten Blitz. Look around the city today and there is virtually nothing to commemorate the attacks and mark the incredible sacrifices by the people of the city.
“Our project aims to change that forever and we are keen to demonstrate we have the backing of the Sheffield public. We are giving people the opportunity to pledge as little as £10 to our campaign and work with us to make it happen.”
The project has already received donations from Peter Stringfellow, Horrible Histories creator Terry Deary, The Moor, Atkinsons and scores of individuals.
It already has the backing of Sheffield City Council, The Star, Sheffield College, the National Emergency Services Museum, Sheffield 50 Plus, Sheffield Galleries and Museums Trust and South Yorkshire Aircraft Museum, which already holds a lot of Sheffield Blitz artefacts.
The £150,000 project aims to deliver:
- A major launch event on the 75th anniversary of the first attack on December 12
- A permanent Sheffield Blitz Heritage Trail which will publicise and tell the stories of significant sites around the city centre area with the aid of listening posts, interpretation posts, leaflet and more
- The collection of scores of personal memories which will go towards the production of an ‘hour by hour’, ‘day by day’ book which will tell the story of the Sheffield Blitz like never before.
- Permanent and travelling Sheffield-based Blitz exhibitions
- Research into the impact of Allied attacks on Sheffield’s German twin city, Bochum
- Website, film and more.
The group are hoping to raise an additional £15,000 through a ‘crowdfunding’ project. Click here to pledge your support now.
The idea of a crowdfunding appeasl is thast donors get something in return for their generosity.
For example, anyone who donates £10 will be entitled to have their name in Neil’s new book about the Blitz. And anyone who gives £100 can opt to have the name of a loved one inscribed on a memorial trail plaque.
Donations can also be made to the Sheffield Blitz Memorial Trust bank account (account number 52118665, sort code 54-41-47) or cheques can be sent to Sheffield Blitz Memorial Trust, 88 Abbeydale Road South, Millhouses, Sheffield S7 2QP.