A COMMEMORATIVE First World War trench has finally been completed at Shoreham Fort.

After seven years of planning, Friends of Shoreham Fort hope the trench will be a permanent reminder of the town and surrounding area’s involvement in the conflict.

Volunteers contributed 2,500 hours of their time to building it, filling 294 bags with cement and 2,500 sandbags. The project was supported by funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Adur Pot of Gold.

Gary Baines, chairman of Friends of Shoreham Fort, said he was proud of the team’s achievement while working under coronavirus restrictions.

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He said: “It was supposed to be a big community project, but obviously with Covid, we had to lock down the whole of the fort.

“We had only very small number of volunteers, obviously with the distancing and everything else. It was hard work, but it was real fun as well.

“I’m really proud to be part of the project with them and achieve what we have in such a little amount of time.”

During the First World War, Shoreham Fort protected camps on the South Downs and the camp in Buckingham Park, Shoreham.

Here troops prepared for conflict, received training in grenade and rifle drills and learnt how to dig the trenches. Gary hopes the trench will educate children about the town’s contribution.

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He said: “We go into the schools and we go dressed in the uniforms of the time and it’s very much about the kids doing the things trying to teach them. It’s very hands on.

“Kids learn so much quicker through doing things rather than just reading about it, so if they can get out there and do activities then this is the way to teach.”

Shoreham Fort’s Remembrance Day events have been cancelled due to the coronavirus, however the community can donate £10 and dedicate a sandbag to someone they lost during the conflicts.

The fort and the sandbags will remain as a permanent reminder of their sacrifice.

Gary said: “It should last as a fitting memorial for the next 50, if not 100 years.

“People just don’t realise what sacrifices were made at home too so we’ve definitely got to keep people remembering and this time of year is certainly the time of year to do that.”