Never Such Innocence launched on 14th and 15th May with a remarkable theatrical performance, blending poetry, prose and music from the Great War, compiled by Dr Martin Stephen.

The production included extracts from letters and diaries of Field Marshal Sir John French, who commanded the British Expeditionary Forces (August 1914-December 1915); the Never Such Innocence Board is co-chaired by Lady Lucy French, his great granddaughter.

The performance took the audience on a moving journey through the Great War and was narrated by John Julius Norwich. The illustrious cast included Tim McInnerny, Polly Hemingway, Mark Field, Jo Stone Fewings and Charlotte Newton John all of whom kindly gave their time free of charge to support this important cause. The beautiful set was designed by Annie Gosney pro bono and the performances were directed by Nick Hutchison and the music by Dr Christopher Tinker.  

The launch was attended by 400 distinguished guests over both nights, and appropriately for an educational charity, our guests were joined by students from the UK and across the globe.  

We would like to thank all those that supported and attended our launch event on 14th and 15th May at the magnificent Australia House, the oldest Australian diplomatic mission. A huge and special thanks to the Australian High Commission for generously agreeing to host the event and for their kind hospitality and assistance throughout the planning and organising stages of our launch.  

One final thank you to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission for specially curating an exhibition for the launch. The exhibition included an overview of the many battlefields of the First World War, and emphasised less well known battles, such as fighting in the South-East Asian theatre that saw the Japanese ally with the Entente powers and drive German forces from many key positions in the Pacific. 

The Never Such Innocence launch event was concluded with a spectacular and moving performance by Virgin Soldiers and their choir. They gave the first performance of their Centenary anthem, and a brief medley from the Strockopera The Dreamers.

All images above are ©Richard Davenport.