Never Such Innocence is a registered charity (number 1156148) in England and Wales and is a unique project fitting into the wider series of 2014-2018 centenary activities. Our aim is to ensure young people nationally are inspired, informed and included in the centenary activities.

The charity takes its 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.

Lady Lucy French

Lady Lucy French

The launch of Never Such Innocence was kindly hosted at Australia House in May 2014 with a gala dinner and theatrical performance, blending poetry, prose and music from the Great War, compiled by Dr Martin Stephen. Since our inception we have been dedicated to engaging the nation’s children in the First World War centenary through learning, poetry, art and music.


Never Such Innocence is dedicated to educating young people about the First World War, its impact and legacy, through creative means:

-  Poetry and art competition  
We run an annual poetry and art competition for children across the British Isles, and now globally, throughout the centenary. We supply a free comprehensive resource pack to inspire entries to our competition and it is downloadable from our website with free hardcopies available for schools, on request. Our 2017/18 competition was launched on 22nd September 2017.

*Winning entries for past competitions have been published in the 2014 Winners Booklet2015/16 Winners Booklet and 2016/17 Winners Booklet . The final edition resource will be published with the winning entries from all four competitions in a special legacy book in 2018!

-  Songs of the Centenary
We are incredibly excited to have Songs of the Centenary this year in partnership with Dave Stewart Entertainment. Our secure online platform, powered by Trackd, allows children to safely collaborate with friends, or indeed with children in other countries. Further details are available here

*In 2018 we will create one Centenary album, a collection of Songs of the Centenary. From these songs we shall create one Centenary anthem, the Song of the Centenary, a song of unity performed by children and leading musicians. 

-  Never Such Innocence playscript
The Never Such Innocence playscript was premiered at Australia House in May 2014 and has since been made available to schools as a free download. The playscript can be used in sections for lessons, assemblies, presentations or in its entirety as a play. Further details can be found here.

Highlighting Commonwealth

Never Such Innocence highlights the terrific magnitude of the Great War, and emphasises that it was indeed a World War. In doing this we hope to 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, paying particular attention to the Commonwealth contribution. We also work closely with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to raise awareness of the 300,000 Commonwealth war dead commemorated in the United Kingdom

Unique Experiences

We provide children with once-in-a-lifetime opportunities and unique experiences 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 & RAF events, Government Centenary activities, High Commissions and Embassies and have VIP tours of The Poppy Factory.  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 at Wellington Barracks with the Band of the Welsh Guards!  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.  Our community roadshow events also aim to bring unique experiences to children in their communities, including museum tours, trips to RAF bases, Royal Navy ships and Army bases. We also provide free song writing workshops!

Smaller Military Charities

In 2014 Never Such Innocence supported five smaller military charities (Give Us TimeLegacyStep ShortVeterans Aid and Combat Stress) by donating half of the proceeds made at our launch event at Australia House