By Georgina Stubbs, Press Association
The Duke of Cambridge has praised the “powerful new perspectives” on war and military service, after thousands of budding Wilfred Owens entered a national poetry competition.
Launched in February, the Poem to Remember competition marks the creation of the Defence National Rehabilitation Centre (DNRC) and the centenary year of the end of the First World War.
The state-of-the-art multi million pound facility will provide neurological and complex trauma care and a full suite of rehabilitative facilities on one site when it opens its doors later this year.
A patron of the DNRC, based at Stanford Hall, near Loughborough, which aims to be one of the best in the world, William will read the winning entry at an event this summer.
William said: “It has been wonderful to see the encouraging response to this competition with more than 5,000 people submitting poems.
“It is remarkable to see these powerful new perspectives on service, conflict and how people can face the most difficult adversities.
“Now, in this centenary year of the end of the First World War, I greatly look forward to seeing which winner the public chooses.”
The thousands of entries were whittled down to 25, with the shortlist of the final five picked by a panel of judges including Dan Snow, Stephen Fry and bestselling novelist Andy McNab.
A public vote to decide the winner opened on June 1 and will close on June 9.
An initiative of the late Duke of Westminster, he saw building the DNRC facility as the most important task he had ever undertaken, his son-in-law Dan Snow, chairman of the judges, has previously said.
The capital cost of building the £300 million facility is funded entirely by charitable donations and will succeed Headley Court as the country’s leading facility for clinical rehabilitation of UK military personnel.
As well as being installed at the DNRC, the writer of the winning entry will also receive £2,000.
Snow said: “We’ve got a chance here to place a poem right at the heart of this national institution – the DNRC – which is going to heal our wounded and look after those who have been terribly afflicted in the warzone for generations to come.
“What greater excitement, what greater honour, can there be than to have your poem up there so that all of those people can see it day and night and to provide a source of inspiration.”
Inspired by the Great War Poets of the First World War, the competition set out to find the next generation of poems that reflect on humankind’s ability to triumph over adversity.
The poems which have been shortlisted are Battle for the Dawn written by Julia Read, 68, from Dorset, Healed by Peter De Ville, 73, from Loughborough, One for the Team by Debbie Lawson, 63, from Aylesbury, Still Here by Julie Stamp, 58, from Dover, and Welcome by Edward Rogers, 67, from Fife.
Judge, DNRC ambassador and former Royal Marine, JJ Chalmers, who was injured after an IED explosion and treated at Headley Court, said there were an “enormous range” of entries.
He said: “But the five that have made it, in particular, speak to me and where I was perhaps six or seven years ago, when I was wounded in Afghanistan.
“And I’d like to think about the position that I was in and what would’ve driven me in my darkest times. I know for example that the poem Invictus was a huge driving force within my recovery.
“So I was trying to find something which could capture the feelings that were in that poem, and will inspire those for generations to come.”
– To read all five poems and for more information on how to vote visit: www.poemtoremember.co.uk