A WAR poem by Philip Larkin was read to guests at the official opening of the Somerset Remembers exhibition in Taunton on Friday.

Volunteers, organisers and dignitaries assembled in the courtyard of the Museum of Somerset to hear Lady Gass, Lord Lieutenant of Somerset, officially declare the exhibition open.

They were welcomed by Somerset Heritage manager Tom Mayberry who thanked all those who have supported the project, including countless who have carried out countless hours of research and project manager Sam Astill. Mr Mayberry also read Larkin’s MCMXIV (1914).

The Somerset Remembers project explores the impact the war had on the county, focusing on the many ways in which Somerset people, their families and communities have remembered the war.

The exhibition at the Museum of Somerset runs until January 3, 2015, and is features the stories and experiences of people in the county during the war.

Mr Mayberry said: “Thousands of men left the county to fight on battlefields across the world. More than 8,000 of them would never return home.

“Life in Somerset was transformed as communities and individuals found many ways of contributing to the war effort. There were changes in people’s working lives and in major industries, and women and children developed new roles and responsibilities – Somerset would never be the same again.

“The exhibition highlights how Somerset people have remembered the war, and those lost in it, and the ways in which the war changed people’s lives. It pays tribute to the sacrifices Somerset people made both during and after the First World War, and will help people today to learn about the impact of the war.”

The Somerset Remembers project was launched by Somerset Heritage Service and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The project has also been supported by the Somerset Military Museum Trust, the Friends of the Museum of Somerset, the Rifles and Light Infantry Association, the Friends of Somerset Archives and the Western Front Association. For further information visit www.somersetremembers.wordpress.com

Copies of the 20-page commemorative edition published in last week’s County Gazette, will be given out at the exhibition. The paper is on sale until the end of Wednesday (July 30) - make sure of your copy.

It features newspaper extracts and photographs from the period, alongside modern-day stories contributed by readers.
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