A TEAM of volunteer researchers are preparing to delve into the past as part of a project to mark the centenary of Save the Children, the international aid charity founded by Ellesmere-born activist Eglantyne Jebb.

The 18-month project also includes the creation of a landmark memorial sculpture in Ellesmere’s Cremorne Gardens to commemorate Eglantyne’s pioneering work.

Pupils from at least half a dozen north Shropshire schools will also be involved – learning how Eglantyne and her sister Dorothy launched the charity in 1919 to help displaced and starving children in central Europe at the end of the First World War.

Members of the Jebb family are supporting the programme of activities planned by a local arts group, the Ellesmere Sculpture Initiative.

Eglantyne’s great, great nephew Richard Jebb, who lives on the outskirts of Ellesmere in the house where she was born, said: “As a family, we’re delighted that this is happening. Although she’s by no means a forgotten figure, I feel she is still something of an unsung heroine and she deserves greater recognition.

“What she did 100 ago was remarkable, inspirational and extremely far-sighted. It was the equivalent in her day of Bob Geldof’s Band Aid campaign to fight famine across the world, except that unlike him, she wasn’t a public celebrity and she would have faced a lot of opposition and male prejudice.”

Mr Jebb said he hoped the project would raise greater awareness of Eglantyne’s achievements and promote Save the Children’s continuing relief work to help displaced children affected by war and famine in countries such as Yemen and Syria and the Rohingya refugees from Burma.

Volunteers are needed for the project research, which aims to develop a locally-based archive of documents and photographs tracing Eglantyne’s life and the charity’s formation.

Claire Cartlidge, the sculpture group’s secretary who is leading the research, said: “We’ll be gathering material from a variety of sources, including libraries in London and Birmingham.

“This will be used in the project workshops and the memorial installation and we hope it will become a permanent feature in Ellesmere Library.”

Last November, the Heritage Lottery Fund announced a £21,000 grant towards the cost of the project which will be carried out over 18 months.

The programme of activities will conclude with a one-day seminar in Ellesmere next year, bringing together leading figures to look back on Eglantyne’s work and discuss the on-going need for Save the Children to support child refugees fleeing global conflicts.

Save the Children’s head of fundraising, marketing and communications, Gemma Sherrington, said the charity welcomed the efforts being made in Ellesmere to mark the centenary.

“The sculptural memorial installation will be a fantastic way to celebrate and also raise awareness of our founder Eglantyne Jebb who created Save the Children in 1919 by fundraising to provide famine relief for children in Germany and Austria. It will be a fitting tribute to a woman who dedicated her life to children’s welfare and human rights. She permanently changed the way the world acts towards children by drafting the first declaration of children’s rights that has now evolved into the UN Convention of the Rights of the Children, the most universally accepted human rights instrument in history.

“We’re incredibly excited to see the results of over eighteen months of hard work and fundraising by the volunteers behind the Ellesmere Sculpture Initiative and the local community when the sculptural memorial installation is unveiled at the end of 2019.”

To help with research for the project contact Claire Cartlidge on 01691 622890 or email claire21.cartlidge@gmail.com