A SPECIAL event is to be held in the village of Cradley, near Malvern to mark the centenary of the start of the First World War and its impact on the rural community.

Staged by drama group Cradley Village Players, the evening of poetry, prose, pictures and song called Herefordshire to the Somme will be staged in Cradley church on Wednesday, September 17 starting at 8pm.

"If any good came out of WWI it probably lies in the arts," said director David Robertson. "The war inspired fine literature, painting and music and we’ve assembled some of the best in each form. Our actors will not only read wonderful verses inspired by war but touching letters and lesser known material including an extract from the diary of an English woman married to a German Count who spent the war in Berlin and describes it from behind enemy lines.

"Bruce Herriot and Sam Roffe will sing pieces by Butterworth, Faure and Gurney , while Wynne and Andrea Harries will be playing music by Edward Elgar and Karl Jenkins. Elgar wrote Dream of Gerontius and other works at Birchwood Lodge in neighbouring Storridge, where he also learned to ride a bike, frequently cycling over to Cradley. Elgar's 1919 cello concerto, written in Sussex, is a lament both for those who died and for a lost world. One critic has said it is ‘haunted by an autumnal sadness, but the sadness of compassion, not pessimism.’ During the concerto’s slow movement, some of the many works of art dealing with WWI - by German as well British and American painters - will be projected on to our dramatic set.

"We also focus on local heroes: people from our community who fought in the war or contributed in other way. In particular, we’ll tell the stories of the 26 young men from Cradley who lost their lives fighting for their country.

"Among them was Rowland Kings, whose parents ran the village post office. In 1908, Rowland married Agnes, the daughter of a local quarry owner, and they had two daughters. Phillis was born in 1910 and her sister Prudence in 1914. Rowland enrolled in the West Riding Field Ambulance, part of the Royal Army Medical Corps, but was tragically killed in action at Ancre, France, on 21st June 1918. Phillis died in 1942 but I was delighted to discover that Prudence is not only still alive but celebrates her 101st birthday this week. Her son Neville and daughter Jane, who both grew up in Cradley, will be attending our event."

Tickets for the event cost £8 to include a glass of wine after the show and are available from the Cradley Butcher or online via Cradleyvillageplayers.com.