At Never Such Innocence we aim to engage children and young people across the world with the centenary of the First World War through poetry, art and song.


Poetry and Art Competition
Our annual international cross-curricular competition enables young people to play their part in commemorating the centenary of the First World War through the creative arts. Our fourth and final centenary competition closed on Friday 30th March, winners will be announced on or before Friday 27th April.  The competition was open to young people aged 9-16, further details are available here

a selection of Winning art entries 

a selection of Winning art entries 

To promote our international competition we ran a Roadshow visiting prestigious venues across the United Kingdom, and beyond, inviting local schools to learn more about our project. Our roadshow also provided the opportunity for young people to showcase their creative talents for an audience of their peers and local dignitaries. 

Every entrant to our international competition receives a Certificate of Commendation signed by our President, Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, and our Founder, Lady Lucy French. Winners are invited to a unique and exciting Awards Ceremony to collect their prizes and celebrate their creative work. All winning entries will be published in a special Winners Booklet, previous Winners Booklets are available to download for free from our website. 

Songs of the Centenary
Songs of the Centenary, in partnership with Dave Stewart Entertainment, and supported by IVE through its Arts Council ‘bridge’ role, engages children and young people with the centenary commemorations through song. An online platform, powered by the app Trackd, provides a secure environment for young people to create music and collaborate with others across the United Kingdom, and the world. During the 2017/18 competition, children and young people across the United Kingdom were provided with free songwriting workshops with our practitioners, Marty Longstaff and Bethzienna Williams.

The international competition is now closed, winners will be notified on or before Friday 27th April. Further details are available here. Every Songs of the Centenary entrant will also receive a Certificate of Commendation and winners will be invited to our Awards Ceremony.

Together: A UK-German Centenary Project
During this final year of the centenary, we are embarking on a youth-centred UK-German creative arts project with kind support from the British Embassy in BerlinVolksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge, and UK-German Connection. We are inviting young people aged 9-16 from the UK and Germany to participate in our project, Together, which provides the opportunity for schools and educational groups to work in partnership, or independently, and draw on the events of the First World War to create messages of hope and unity through poetry, art or song. Find out about our new UK-German centenary project here.

To inspire creative responses to the centenary, we produce an educational resource which is available to download for free. This acts as a starting point for young people to learn about the First World War and respond creatively through our competition. Teachers wanting to participate in Together may request two free copies of the resource by emailing

A Lasting Centenary Legacy
This autumn the winning entries from all four centenary competitions, and from Together, will be published in a special legacy book and all winning songs will be released as an album, Songs of the Centenary.

Unique Experiences

We provide unique opportunities for children to participate in very special, highly memorable occasions to celebrate their engagement with the centenary of the First World War.

Through our poetry, art and song competition, children have the opportunity to perform at major Royal Navy & Royal Air Force events, Government Centenary activities, and High Commissions and Embassies.

Every winner, runner up, and recipient of Special Commendation is invited to our Awards Ceremony annually at a special location – previous ceremonies have been held at the House of Lords and The Guards’ Chapel, Wellington Barracks!  These ceremonies and activities are a celebration of the children’s creativity and the important role they are playing in the Centenary commemorations. With help from the Armed Forces and our generous supporters we really do pull out all the stops!

Lossiemouth High School Singing 'The Sky is the limit' with sotc artist in residence, Marty Longstaff, at raf Lossimouth

Lossiemouth High School Singing 'The Sky is the limit' with sotc artist in residence, Marty Longstaff, at raf Lossimouth

Our community roadshow events aimed to bring unique experiences to children in their communities, including museum tours, trips to RAF bases, Royal Navy ships and Army bases. We also provided free song writing workshops to complement the roadshow!

A Global War

We emphasise the global nature of the First World War and in doing so encourage young people to actively learn about their shared history and heritage.

In order to highlight the global nature of the war we work with High Commissions and Embassies to promote the competition and to produce our resource which offers multiple perspectives on the War.  

We are proud to work with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) and the Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge (German War Graves Commission) to encourage young people to visit their local war graves, pay their respects, and use the visit to inform their competition entries.

Together with the CWGC, British Council, British Embassy in Greece, and Museum of Macedonian Struggle we are bringing the project Salonika Remembers to schools and young people across Greece. We invited schools to visit and explore the CWGC cemeteries in Thessaloniki, Greece, and respond creatively to this experience through poetry, art and song.

We take our name from Philip Larkin’s famous poem MCMXIV, which reflects on the changes caused by the First World War. The driving force behind Never Such Innocence is Lady Lucy French, great-granddaughter of Field Marshal Sir John French who commanded the British Expeditionary Forces from 1914-15.