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Bourne graduate Abigail Rowlands recalls her summer with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Bourne student Abigail Rowlands has been welcoming visitors to historic war graves in France.

The 21-year-old has spent four months as an intern for the Commonwealth War Graves Foundation (CGWF).

The graduate of Bourne Academy beat hundreds of other applicants for the role, which ended last week.

Based at the Thriepval Memorial, on the battlefields of the Somme in northern France, Abigail also welcomed people to the Commonwealth War Raves Commission (CWCG) new visitor centre.

Here, Abigail would accompany tours around the centre, answer questions from the public and help them with research.

In October, Abigail also attended a reburial of 13 Unknown Soldiers of the Great War in Wytschaete Military Cemetery near Ypres. Earlier this month, she also attended the reburial of Lance Corporal Frederick Thomas Perkins in Loos British Cemetry, in the presence of the soldier’s family.

The internship was launched for the CWGC’s 100th anniversary in 2017.

Abigal became interested in the ‘Great War’ after visits to the battlefields, including the Somme, while at school.

“My love of World War One grew from that. That’s what made me study history.”

When the internship was first available in 2017, she had just started studying history at the University of East Anglia. But on graduating this year, she was available.

“I have always admired the work of the commission and I thought I would play my part.”

Abigail says being an intern has been “eye-opening”, from learning more about the work of the commission, to getting to know the relatives of those that we commemorate.

“Even though World Ware One ended 100 years ago, we are still identifying soldiers and going to the reburials was very poignant. It shows the impact of the war on families.”

She added: “It was a rush and the four months flew by.”

Now, working in Tesco in Bourne, Abigail is seeking a career with the CWCG and the broader heritage sector.

Xavier Puppinck, CWGC director of Western Europe France said:”We welcome hundreds of thousands of visitors to our cemeteries and memorials in France every year, but with the passage of time, many of those visitors look to the CWGC for more information on those who died, the wider history of the two world wars, and the work we do to care for such places.

“We are delighted to have young people such as Abigail on site to be able to guide our visitors and enriching their experience.”

To apply for CWGC 2020 intern programme go to www.CWCG.org/interns

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