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Tourism, Culture and Recreation
November 6, 2013

The following is being distributed at the request of The Rooms Corporation:

The Rooms Launches First World War Campaign with $2.5 Million Donation

The Rooms Corporation today announced its multi-year plan to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Beaumont-Hamel and the First World War. Co-chaired by General Rick Hillier, former Chief of the Defence Staff, Canadian Forces, and Seamus O’Regan, The Rooms Board of Directors, the Where Once They Stood We Stand campaign will commemorate the province’s role in the Great War. General Hillier and Mr. O’Regan were joined by Tom Foran, Chair of The Rooms Corporation and Dean Brinton, CEO, The Rooms Corporation, for the announcement.

“On the eve of the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Beaumont-Hamel, the responsibility of honouring the sacrifices and contributions made by our ancestors here at home and overseas has been given to us,” said Mr. Foran. “Over the next several years, The Rooms will embark upon a significant endeavor to document, preserve, educate and remember the stories of those who have gone before us and helped shaped our province. We can think of no greater way to remember those who sacrificed so much than to ensure that nothing be forgotten.”

General Hillier said the campaign holds special meaning for him because of his military background.

“As a lifelong soldier, it should come as no surprise that I fully support the efforts of The Rooms to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Beaumont-Hamel and the First World War,” said General Hillier. “I support this initiative not just as a soldier. I support these efforts to commemorate, remember, educate and appreciate our forefathers’ service and sacrifices because I am a very proud son of Newfoundland and Labrador, and my support comes from my heart.”

Along with the committee established to assist The Rooms in its efforts around the Where Once They Stood We Stand campaign, a First World War Exhibition Advisory Committee has also been compiled to provide assistance with exhibition development.

“From the National War Memorial in downtown St. John’s to the Trail of the Caribou monuments erected in France and Belgium, generations before us have worked to honour the stories and sacrifices of the First World War,” said Mr. O’Regan. “As we approach the 100th anniversary of the battle of Beaumont-Hamel, it’s our turn now. This is our generation’s memorial.”

While the campaign was still in its development stage, two lead donors stepped forward to assist The Rooms in its preliminary planning. The Patten Family Foundation contributed $250,000 towards the project, while local philanthropist, Elinor Gill Ratcliffe, also contributed $250,000. These donations allowed The Rooms to continue preliminary exhibition and project planning. At the event today, Ms. Gill Ratcliffe announced an additional donation of $2 million dollars towards these commemoration plans, for a total gift of $2.25 million.

“Campaigns such as ours cannot live without lead donations such as these,” said Mr. Brinton. “They breathe life into an initial project plan, making it a reality. The Provincial Government has given The Rooms the foundation to embark upon these projects; however, these stories belong to all of us, and we all have a duty in preserving them. We are blessed that these kind donors put their trust and confidence in The Rooms so that it can ensure our history is preserved and shared with the people of the province, in particular our youth, so that our living memory is not lost.”

More information regarding the projects and the committees is included in the backgrounder below.

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Media contact:
Deanne Fisher
Executive Director, Marketing and Development
The Rooms Corporation
709-757-8070, 631-0835


The Where Once They Stood We Stand commemoration campaign includes:

The Where Once They Stood We Stand Campaign Committee includes:

The First World War Exhibition Advisory Committee members are:

2013 11 06                            11:00 a.m.

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