Lights Out – 100 Year Commemoration of WW1


This week marks 100 years since the outbreak of the First World War. On the 4 August 1914 Britain declared war on Germany and entered a conflict that changed our country forever. The centenary anniversary is a unique opportunity for us to think about the profound impact the war had on our society, to commemorate those who served and sacrificed for us on the frontline and the home front, and to consider the conflicts still ravaging people’s lives today.

My thoughts turn to a recent commemoration event I attended at Colmers School in my constituency. Just before “The Last Post” was played at the end, the names of those from the Northfield/ Longbridge area who died in the war were read out in front of the packed school assembly. As each name was read out, a different student or member of staff rose to his or her feet, holding an individual poppy. It was hugely moving and you could have heard a pin drop as the entire school filed out at the end of the service. The poppies were planted in a new school garden that had just been prepared by the sixth form.I’d like to thank Colmers for doing something so special and for inviting me to be there to see it.

At 10pm on Monday 4 August, hundreds of buildings and millions of people across the UK will switch out their lights for an hour. The time marks precisely a century since Britain formally entered the First World War at 11pm on 4 August 1914. The “Lights Out” event has been inspired by the famous words from the then Foreign Secretary, Sir Edward Grey, on the outbreak of the war: ‘The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.’

Everyone in the UK is invited to turn their lights out from 10-11pm tonight, and leave on a single light or candle to mark the moment we entered the war a hundred years ago. I hope you will be able to participate – find out more here.

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Richard Burden

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I was Labour Member of Parliament for Birmingham Northfield between 1992 and 2019 and a former Shadow Transport Minister. I now chair Healthwatch in Birmingham and Solihull, and the West Midlands Board of Remembering Srebrenica. I also work as a public affairs consultant. I am an effective community advocate and stakeholder alliance builder with a passion for human rights. I am a trustee of the Balfour Project charity and of Citizens Advice Birmingham, and a former Chair of Medical Aid for Palestinians.

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