On Monday 4 August at 11am The Chantry Centre, Andover launched a programme of WW1 activity that includes a school's outreach campaign, displays in the Centre and charity fundraising for ten military charities.

A bugler, in World War One costume, played Reveille before 100 homing pigeons were released outside the entrance to the Shopping Centre by Andover pigeon racer (the appropriately named) Melvyn Bird.

The Mayor of Test Valley, Councillor Jan Lovell, then pulled back two giant Union Jack flags and unveiled an interactive display inside the Shopping Centre, which features news reel footage of pigeons behind the front line, the military charities the event is supporting, and the names of all the Andover servicemen on the town's war memorial.

'We wanted to make our commemoration local and relevant, with themes that would have a contemporary resonance," said Steve Cotney, centre manager at The Chantry Centre. "The Project, which we have called tWW1tter, is based on the significance of communications in the field of war and features the importance of carrier pigeons during the First World War. We are also linking directly to the 213 Andover servicemen who sacrificed their lives in the conflict and who are commemorated on the Memorial in St Mary's Churchyard."

Guests at the opening ceremony included Fiona Sexton and her two children, the daughter and grandchildren of Tony Goulding, whose book "A tribute to an Andover Lad, Private William Goulding" is a unique documentation of the war experiences of Tony's uncle William Goulding who is commemorated on the Andover War Memorial.

Military charity Initiative

The Centre is inviting Shoppers to help raise funds for ten military charities by collecting tokens every time they spend in forty five of the Centre's stores including Boots, Argos, Waterstones and Waitrose.

The shoppers choose their charity by placing their tokens in the appropriate 'pigeon holes' at the central display.

In early September 10 homing pigeons will be released in France to race back to the UK. Each pigeon will be assigned to one of the chosen military charities and the first 3 pigeons returning will receive £1 for each token in their box, with each charity represented receiving at least £100 to commemorate the WW1 Centenary.

The 10 supported charities are: Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity, Royal British Legion, SSAFA, BLESMA, Blink Veterans UK, Royal Air Force Association, ABF The Soldiers' Charity, Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps Association and Invisible Injuries.

School's outreach project

Part of the tWW1tter campaign is an education project, taking place in local schools at the start of September. Two costumed actors, playing the part of soldiers in charge of the communications for a battalion on active service during WW1 will introduce place of pigeons in the conflict assisted by a local representative of the Royal Pigeon Racing Society, who would show the children the way birds were kept and how messages were attached to them.

After an introduction to the topic of WW1, the team will talk about the local men and women who fought in the War and about the names on the Andover War Memorial.

Children will be invited to design their own medal and dedicate it to one of the servicemen on the Andover War Memorial. The medal design will be part of a card stand, to be displayed in the Chantry Court part of the Centre creating a temporary Garden of Remembrance.

All the children to The Chantry Centre at 11am on Armistice Day, Tuesday 11 November, when the Centre will hold a brief ceremony for one generation to remember the sacrifices made by another in a way that we hope will be uplifting and celebratory.