AN IMPORTANT aspect of Stoke City’s 150th anniversary celebrations is supporting work within the community in a number of ways . . . one of which highlights the incredible humanity of local people during the Second World War.
The Stoke City Community Fund has entered into a partnership with the documentary film-makers Inspired to promote their portrayal of how the mining community of Stoke-on-Trent helped with the rebuilding of a Czechoslovakian town.
Lidice was all but destroyed by insurgence from the Nazis in 1942, but the then Member of Parliament for Hanley, Sir Barnett Stross, led an operation in which the selfless actions of the city’s miners ensured it rose again from the ashes.
The support of the Stoke Community Fund will help Inspired to not only complete their production but also raise awareness of the fascinating story.
Stoke City Chairman Peter Coates, whose father was a miner himself, was particularly touched by the story and had no hesitation in involving the Club.
“We’re concentrating on the community for our 150th anniversary celebrations, so we’re doing things around the city and we thought this was just a great thing to do because it’s such a marvellous story,” said Mr Coates at the launch of the project.
“When you hear the story and see some of the illustrations we’ve seen, it’s very difficult not to get involved and not to feel inspired by it. It is a remarkable story and one that would move anyone.”
Michael McDonald, Business Development Director of Inspired Film & Video, who developed the documentary, believes getting Stoke City to fund the film will see the story’s reach stretch far.
“Having Stoke City on board has helped us in the sense of assisting us, for example, in getting the archive footage that was needed, so it counts as financial backing,” he said.
“The real help, though, is going to be using the Stoke City brand to get the story out there. Having Stoke to help us share the message means it is going to be a lot more effective that if we were trying to do it ourselves.”
The support of the Lidice project has added significance because the Britannia Stadium is located on the site of the former Hem Heath Colliery.
City's Chief Executive Tony Scholes said: "We may play in the richest League in the world, which is a global League beamed to millions around the world, but we are a Football Club that is grounded in the local community, so it is very important to help projects like this.
"This is an incredibly sad story, yet it is also a heart-warming and inspirational one. One of the sad things about the story is that it is not commonly known around this city, even though so many local people rallied round to help. I know that many will have a relative who was involved in this piece of history.
"We felt it was important therefore to not only help with the production of this film but also raise awareness of the story."
The documentary is being endorsed by the MP for Stoke-on-Trent Centre and historian Tristram Hunt, who believes that soon after the 70th anniversary of the event, the story needs to be told.
“I wanted to get involved in this story because it was a great moment in the history of Stoke-on-Trent. It was when Stoke-on-Trent stood up to the forces of fascism, of Nazism, and took on Hitler.
“We don’t know nearly enough about this story; neither here in the Potteries nor across Britain as a whole. It’s very important that school kids and people in Stoke get to know about this piece of history.”