THE first details have been released of a programme of events in Killyleagh to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War.
There is a strong cross-community theme to the programme, celebrating the day the war ended in 1945.
A number of different organisations are to come together to stage the programme, with support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
The first of the events will be on Friday 28 February when a medals and memories day will be held in the Lecture Hall in Irish Street.
Families of soldiers who served in the Second World War are asked to bring along photos and medals, and share their memories.
“We are keen to hear from the families of the English, Scottish and Welsh soldiers who were based in Shrigley and Killyleagh, many of whom stayed,” explained Chris Hagan from the Killyleagh Remembers the War group.
“We also want to hear from the families of the local soldiers, sailors and airmen who served from 1939 to 1945 including the 21 local men who made the ultimate sacrifice.”
One of the first photos that has been received shows the Home Guard in Killyleagh.
Anyone with photos from the period is asked to bring them along on the day or to make contact with Zena McAllister, Ann Fee, Austy Cheevers or Billy Croskery.
The main focus of the Killyleagh VE 75 celebrations will be over the weekend of May 8 to 10.
On Friday 8 May, which has already been designated as a public holiday to mark the 75th anniversary, the organisers plan to hold a free street party for the children of the two local primary schools, Killyleagh Integrated PS and St Mary’s PS.
Chris Hagan added: “There will be prizes for the best dressed children in period custom, as the boys and girls were when the Victory celebrations were held in 1945.
“There are plans for a piper and the Royal British Legion in Killyleagh are organising a nation’s toast when glasses are raised in local pubs at the exact time that Winston Churchill announced an end to war.
“At the same time the bells of St John’s Parish Church will ring out across the town, as they did 75 years ago to announce the peace.”
Later that weekend there will be an inter-denominational religious service and Tribute to the Millions event.
The Remember the War group is also planning a display of World War Two and military vehicles, with schools competitions, history talks by Dr Eamon Phoenix, Stephen Walker and Richard Parkinson and a newly designed Second World War walking trail of Killyleagh looking at the landmark buildings which played a role in the home front of the war.
The groups taking part include the Sloane’s history group, the Killyleagh Family History Society, the Killyleagh and Killinchy RBL and Killyleagh Youth Association.