At least 800 schoolchildren will get to experience Portsmouth City Council’s D-Day Story museum for free, thanks to generous sponsorship.

BAE Systems, Portsmouth Grammar School, Lockheed Martin and Wightlink Isle of Wight Ferries are the first to join the museum’s sponsorship programme.

2024 marks 80 years since D-Day and the Normandy landings and thorough the museum’s education programme, thousands of Portsmouth children will learn about this historic event and the major role the city played during the Second World War.

The school visits inspire children through authentic object handling, interactive displays throughout the museum and the opportunity to step on board the last surviving landing craft tank that took part in D-Day. With an ambitious target of securing funding for 10,000 visits, Portsmouth City Council is calling for more businesses to join its sponsorship programme.

Cllr Steve Pitt, Portsmouth City Council Leader, said:

“It’s so important that our children hear the personal accounts of those who fought and made such great sacrifices, so their stories are passed down and aren’t forgotten. We are so grateful to all each of the sponsors who’ve already come forward, and I hope this is just the start so thousands more Portsmouth children get the opportunity to visit our fantastic museum.”

BAE Systems’ £17,500 sponsorship will allow 500 children to visit for free.

Scott Jamieson, Managing Director of Maritime Services at BAE Systems, said:

“D-Day will soon pass from living memory which makes it incredibly important to ensure that the next generation understand the sacrifices our veterans made so they are not forgotten. BAE Systems have proudly supported our Armed Forces for generations and this educational programme is an opportunity for us to honour and reinforce our commitment.”

Portsmouth Grammar School, Lockheed Martin and Wightlink are all generously sponsoring £3,500 to each enable 100 free visits, taking the total funded places to 800 so far.

David Wickes, Head of The Portsmouth Grammar School, said:

“The Portsmouth Grammar School has been part of the city for almost 300 years, so supporting major city events and initiatives is very much part of our DNA. Ensuring that future generations understand the heritage of our city and the stories of the veterans that were part of D-Day are not forgotten is incredibly important so we are delighted to be able to sponsor the Educational Programme of D-Day 80.”

Emlyn Taylor, Group Managing Director, Lockheed Martin UK said

“With every passing year, stories of sacrifice and duty from our WWII veterans disappear in the passage of time.  These heroes need to be remembered and their stories brought to back to life for the generations that have enjoyed freedom and prosperity in the years since.  Lockheed Martin UK is proud to be one of the sponsors for the D-Day 80 Portsmouth Education programme. Sharing how D-Day fits into the wider story of WWII, students can fully appreciate the significance of this momentous day in history and keep their memories alive for years to come.”

David Williams, Head of Marketing at Wightlink, said:

“We’re honoured to support the D-Day 80 Educational Programme to ensure that the stories of veterans are shared with the young people of Portsmouth. Our partnership will provide funding for 100 school children to engage in a meaningful learning experience at the museum throughout 2024. By facilitating this educational journey, we’ll help people remember the sacrifices of those who took part in the operation and foster a sense of connection between generations, which aligns perfectly with our values at Wightlink.”

If you would like to join the sponsorship programme, please email carol.clark2@portsmouthcc.gov.uk or call 023 9284 1174. Minimum sponsorship is £3,500 for 100 children.

For further details about events commemorating the 80th anniversary of D-Day and the Normandy landings please visit:  D-Day 80 – The D-Day Story, Portsmouth (theddaystory.com)