Will to become a war graves centenary intern in Belgium and France

Will Parkinson has become a centenary intern for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Will Parkinson has become a centenary intern for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission

A student from Bassetlaw has beaten hundreds of applicants to become a Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) centenary intern.

Will Parkinson, who is originally from Worksop, is working with the CWGC in France and Belgium, at some of the most important sites commemorating those who died in the two world wars.

Will said: “I applied to become an intern because I admired the efforts the commission made to educate and inform the public about those that lost their lives during the wars.

“Thanks to their work more people are able to pay their respects to the fallen as well as discover the remarkable stories behind the headstones.

“The projects that the CWGC has been involved with have moved and inspired me into learning more about the soldiers, as well as my own family history.

“So once I discovered the internship opportunity it was something I wanted to be a part of.

“It is a chance to properly engage with these incredible stories whilst moving and inspiring others to do the same, and I am eager to get started.”

The CWGC centenary internship has been funded by a LIBOR grant from the UK Government and is now supported by the CWGC’s new charity – The Commonwealth War Graves Foundation.

The foundation has been specifically created to keep the memory and the stories of those who died in the two world wars alive for generations to come.

Liz Sweet, the CWGC’s director of external relations in western Europe explained: “The numbers of people visiting our cemeteries and memorials is at an all-time high.

“But with the passage of time, many of those visitors are looking to the CWGC to provide more information about those who died, the wider history of the two world wars, and the work we do to care for such places.

“We were seeking the brightest and best of their generation to enrich that visitor experience and Will is part of a programme that makes a real difference to those visitors.”

The centenary interns programme is a unique opportunity for young people to travel, live and work with the CWGC in France and Belgium over the course of this summer.

Following a period of training, the interns act as paid guides at a number of iconic CWGC sites – including Tyne Cot and Bedford House cemeteries in Belgium, and the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme in France.

They will welcome and guide visitors, undertake research and help offer context and clearer understanding of both the CWGC and the First World War, from the perspective of people not much younger than many of those who died.