These are designed to encourage greater numbers of visitors to the many war cemeteries and memorials; to provide additional interpretation for those visitors; and to construct a new Commonwealth War Graves Commission visitor and headstone engraving centre in Flanders.
It is intended to build the new centre near the town of Zonnebeke, which represents a hugely significant development for the Commission and the people of Flanders, with whom the Commission has forged a close friendship which spans over 90 years.
Today, as he signed the Agreement, the Commission's Director General, Alan Pateman-Jones said: "The Commonwealth War Graves Commission owes a debt of gratitude to the Flemish and Belgian governments and the people who do so much to enable us to honour the memory of those who died. Their vision and efforts have helped make this partnership possible.
The new centre will create a visitor landmark in the heart of the First World War battlefield region of Flanders. It will provide the public with a fascinating insight into the work of the Commission and the importance of this work in remembering the fallen of two World Wars."
The centre will also house a purpose-built headstone manufacturing operation which visitors will be able to view in action. The Commission's main headstone production centre is, and will remain, near Arras in France, but with an extensive programme of headstone replacement and repair taking place over the next 20 years. This additional manufacturing capacity will be invaluable.
It is proposed the new centre will be operational in time for the centennial commemorations of the First World War.
For further information, please contact Peter Francis on 01628 507163 or 07766 255884 firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes for Editors
1. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission is responsible for marking and maintaining the graves of those members of the Commonwealth forces who died during the two world wars, for building and maintaining memorials to the dead whose graves are unknown and for providing records and registers of these 1.7 million burials and commemorations found in most countries throughout the world. For more information visit www.cwgc.org
2. Funding for the proposal to build the new centre will be considered by the Flemish Government, which has invited proposals to mark the 100th anniversary of the Great War. Successful bids will be announced by the end of 2010. Funding for the visitor centre would then be split 50/50 between the Commission and the Flemish Government.