Billy Bragg sings for Pages of the Sea

HUNDREDS of people went to the beaches at Lyme Regis and Weymouth to take part in Pages of the Sea, and admire the sand portraits of First World War heroes, as part of the nationwide Armistice Day commission by film-director Danny Boyle, who masterminded the London Olympics opening celebrations.

In Dorset, Activate Performing Arts worked with the national organisers, and among the people who turned out to support this impressive and moving event was folk singer and campaigner Billy Bragg, who lives in Dorset.

Pages of the Sea, which invited people to gather on 32 beaches, from the Orkneys to the south west, is the largest simultaneous coastal arts project to take place in the UK.

At Weymouth and Lyme Regis, singer-songwriter Billy Bragg led open-mic sessions with members of the community joining to share memories, poetry and songs. Large scale portraits of Private Stanley Robert McDougall VC, an ANZAC soldier, and Rifleman Kulbir Thapa VC, the first Gurkha to be awarded the Victoria Cross, were drawn into the sand on the Dorset beaches, and washed away as the tide came in – representing a small selection of the millions who gave their lives to the war.

All the portraits were chosen by Danny Boyle to represent a range of stories – ordinary people who gave their lives to the war effort, from doctors to munition workers, privates to lieutenants and majors and including some of the famous war poets, who translated the experience of war for those at home.

Local people read The Wound in Time by Carol Anne Duffy, who was invited by Danny Boyle to write a poem to mark the centenary of Armistice Day.

Kate Wood, artistic and executive director of Activate said: “Everyone here at Activate was honoured to be on the beaches in Lyme Regis and Weymouth with the community. It was incredibly moving that young and old took part, marking 100 years since the end of World War One.”