Salisbury teenager helps 'make history come alive' for thousands of visitors

Salisbury teenager helps 'make history come alive' for thousands of visitors

Published by Faye Tryhorn at 7:04am 19th August 2019. (Updated at 5:29am 20th August 2019)

3 minute read

Abigail Eagles has been working as a Commonwealth War Graves Foundation intern, and says it's been 'humbling'.

The 19 year old, who's been on a gap year after attending the Godolphin School, has been based at the Thiepval Memorial in France.

That commemorates the lives of 72,000 men from British and South African forces killed during the Battle of the Somme in World War One.

Abigail Eagles Salisbury intern with Commonwealth War Graves Foundation
Abi got to spend time with veterans during her internship

Abi's role as an CWGF intern meant she welcomed visitors of all ages and nationalities to the memorial, giving tours, answering questions, and helping them find out more about their family history.

She was already in France during a very special summer, as the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings was remembered.

There were some VIP visitors to show around too - including Her Royal Highness, the Princess Royal and former Prime Minister Theresa May.

Abigail Eagles Salisbury intern with Commonwealth War Graves Foundation
Abi (on the right) with other interns and the then Prime Minister

Abigail said it's been a life-changing experience, ahead of taking up studies in History at the University of Cambridge this Autumn: 

"My experience as an intern has been humbling and I've had the opportunity to do so many incredible things such as attending the D-Day Commemorations in Normandy, going to a reburial service of an Unknown Solider of the First World War and attending the opening of the new CWGC Visitor Centre.  

"The internship has had such a huge impact on the way I think about the World Wars and those who served - history books talk about so many thousands killed, but when you help so many relatives locate graves or names on a memorial, you realise each was an individual lost to a family. It has been such a privilege to help tell the stories of the men commemorated by the CWGC to visitors and I'm so grateful to have had the opportunity to be a CWGF intern."


It was set up in 2017 to mark 100 years of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, using money from the Government's LIBOR fund, which is made up of fines for the banking industry following the financial crisis.

The aim is to give young people the opportunity to travel, live and work with the charity for four months in France and Belgium.

It's been 'specifically created to keep the memory and the stories of those who died in the two world wars alive for generations to come'. 

Xavier Puppinck, the CWGC's Director of Western Europe France, said: 

"We welcome hundreds of thousands visitors to our cemeteries and memorials in France every year, but with the passage of time, many of those visitors are looking to the CWGC to provide more information about those who died, the wider history of the two world wars, and the work we do to care for such places. 

"We are delighted to have young people such as Abigail on site to be able to guide our visitors and enriching their experience." 

Applications for the 2020 CWGF Internship opens later this year. 

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