A CAMPAIGN has been launched to recruit 400 volunteers to participate in a dance performance commemorating the 100 year anniversary of the beginning of the Battle of the Somme.

On Friday, July 1 Manchester will host the national commemoration at Heaton Park.

Manchester City Council started their campaign on Monday to recruit enthusiastic people to form the ‘Somme 100 Pals’ and participate in a movement based performance.

Alan Lane, Artistic Director, said: “The ambition to include as many members of the public in the National Commemoration of the Somme has been behind all our ideas and planning.

“There’s different ways that people can get involved but I think volunteering in the dance company is going to be one of the most exciting and memorable for everyone involved.”

The volunteers will work with choreographers Lucy Hind, co-choreographer of the London 2012 Paralympic Opening Ceremony, and Dan Watson.

Professional dancers will also be performing and each volunteer will be provided with a specially made outfit which will also be given to them as a keepsake.

Janine Hague, Engagement Manager, said: “People signed up in their thousands responding to Lord Kitchener’s calls.

“The performance reflects that spirit of neighbours and members of communities coming together to join the pals.”

Anyone over the age of 18 can volunteer and no experience is necessary, just a commitment to attend several rehearsals in June at Heaton Park and the event itself from 6pm on July 1.

Mrs Hague added: “There were devastating losses and a huge impact on communities back at home.

“Anyone can volunteer: man or woman, able bodied or disabled.

“The idea is that we want to represent everybody that would have suffered as a direct consequence of the battle.”

Heaton Park was used as a training camp for the Manchester Pals during the First World War.

The Pals was the title given to the thousands of volunteers who signed up to join the Army.

The dance performance is part of a national commemoration that will feature music, drama, film and poetry to remember those that fought and died in the battle which lasted 141 days.

The battle saw one million men killed or wounded.

Councillor Sue Murphy, Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “Every year thousands of people volunteer to help with events and projects on the Manchester calendar and they play an invaluable part of the city’s even programme.

“Why not join us and become part of this special day and make memories which will last a lifetime.”

You can sign up using the online registration form.

For any questions or for more information you can email pals@somme100manchester.co.uk.

By Emily Murray

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