Stephen Fry joins search for 'A Poem to Remember'

Thursday 15 February 2018
For General Release

Stephen Fry joins search for ‘A Poem to Remember’

New judge unveiled for DNRC national poetry competition with Prince William

Stephen Fry today recalled how the great First World War poets were an inspiration during the final series of the hit historical comedy series Blackadder. 

As it was announced that the actor and comedian was joining the judges of a national poetry competition marking the 100th anniversary of the conflict’s end, he said that the poets’ celebrated works were a constant presence.

“Like many, I was captivated and enthralled by the poets of the First World War when introduced to them at school.  Later in life, we had collections of Wilfred Owen, Sassoon and other great poets of that war made available in our rehearsal rooms during the making of the television series Blackadder Goes Forth.  It may have been a comedy show, but we wanted to capture the spirit of World War One as honestly as we could,” he said. The fourth and final series was set in the trenches of Flanders.

Launched by Prince William earlier this month, the competition ‘A Poem to Remember’ is being organised by Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre. As patron of the campaign behind the new world class centre, Prince William will read out the winning poem at a special event this summer.

Stephen Fry joins the chair of judges, historian and broadcaster, Dan Snow, and SAS veteran and bestselling novelist Andy McNab.  

He added: “Poetry, more than any other form of expression from the time, captured the atmosphere and experience of war in a way that nothing, not even photography, could.  To this day I am convinced that poetry remains the most direct route for the truthful and immediate conveying of emotion and experience.  

“I am therefore delighted to be a shortlist judge for ‘A Poem to Remember’, marking the centenary of the cessation of conflict in that terrible Great War.  It is particularly exciting and appropriate that so many former and existing servicemen and women are sending in their entries for the competition.  I am greatly looking forward to reading them all.”

Full details of the competition can be found at Anyone aged 17 and over can enter the competition.  The deadline for entries is Monday 9 April. 

Dan Snow said: “In the spirit of the Great War poets we want to mark this extraordinary year with poetry. Our ancestors overcame appalling obstacles to win the First World War. Today many of our wounded servicemen and women are fighting their own battles, winning against the odds and rebuilding their lives.

“Every day countless people do amazing things in the service of our communities and country. Soldiers, sailors and airmen and women, ambulance drivers, nurses, everyday heroes – so many people go above and beyond the call of duty.  

“We’re looking for entries inspired by the human spirit of triumphing in the face of adversity.  We’re inviting people all over the country to get involved.” 

Andy McNab said: “The Poem to Remember competition is a fantastic idea. It’s for absolutely everyone, whether you have written a poem before, or never even given it a thought.

“But it’s not just about commemorating the fallen. Like the poets of the First World War gave voice to those caught in the horror of the Western Front, we want to hear your voice on what matters to you.

Trying our hand at poetry also encourages all of us to fire up our imaginations.”

Stephen Fry has been a long-term supporter of ABF the Soldiers’ Charity, which provides lifelong help to Army veterans and their families who are in need. 

Major General (Ret’d) Martin Rutledge, Chief Executive of ABF The Soldiers’ Charity comments: “ABF The Soldiers’ Charity is delighted to be supporting “A Poem to Remember”, a competition that is intended to honour and convey the challenges faced by service personnel and their families.  Marking the centenary of the end of the First World War is very important and doing so through the art of poetry is admirable. It is vital to support our soldiers and veterans and to remember their service for the British Army. We wish all applicants good luck and thank them for taking the time to submit their entries.”

A team of literary experts and journalists will review the entries and produce a longlist of 25 poems.  From this, the best five will be chosen by the special panel which Stephen Fry now joins.  The winner will then be decided by public vote.  

The competition is being officially supported by many leading poetry organisations and military charities including the Poetry Society, the Wilfred Owen Association, Glen Art, the War Poets Association, ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, Help for Heroes, the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund, Style for Soldiers, and Walking with the Wounded. 

How to enter:

The competition is open to anybody aged 17 and over and is free to enter. Only previously unpublished poems can be submitted, and they should not be more than 25 lines long. 

The winner will receive a £2,000 cash prize, and £500 will be presented to the four runners-up. 

Poems can be entered by email, online or by post.  Full details and T&Cs can be found at Media are asked to include or embed a link in copy, in order to help people enter. 

The shortlist will be announced in May 2018 and the public will have the chance to read the poems and vote for their winner by text or online.   

The Defence facility is being funded entirely by charitable donations and will succeed Headley Court as the UK’s leading facility for clinical rehabilitation of those in the Armed Forces when it becomes operational later this year.  

The DNRC was the initiative of the late 6th Duke of Westminster, who set the programme in motion but sadly died in 2016.  Situated near Loughborough, the state-of-the-art facility will provide neurological and complex trauma care and a full suite of rehabilitative facilities together on one site, bringing benefits that will make it unique in the world. 


Media contact:

Emily Barnes, Ben Copithorne or Richard Pia at Camargue on 020 7636 7366 / 

About the DNRC

The Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre (DNRC) is being built on the Stanford Hall estate near Loughborough.  

The Defence establishment will be the 21st century, purpose-built successor to Headley Court in Surrey – a clinical rehabilitation centre of excellence treating members of the Armed Forces.

Construction on the Defence establishment began in 2015 and it will be operational with patients by the end of 2018. The fundraising target for the DNRC Programme is £300m, and the capital cost for building the Defence establishment is being met entirely through charitable donations. Upon completion, the Defence facility will be handed over to the MoD which will operate it and pay the running costs. 

The DNRC is the late sixth Duke of Westminster’s initiative. He served for 40 years in the British Reserve Army and witnessed the high price paid by many members of the Armed Forces during their service.  He felt strongly that we owe those who volunteer to fight for our countries, alongside forces from other nations, the best possible care and rehabilitation if they are injured during strenuous training or in conflict.  

The concept for the DNRC envisages not only provision of a new military establishment, but also the potential to create a specialist clinical rehabilitation facility for civilians on the same site.  This would be funded and operated separately, and outline planning permission has been secured.  See more detail on the opportunity for the National (‘N’ element) of the DNRC at 

More information about the DNRC is available on the website – including details about the construction of the Defence facility and what’s happening on site now, the origin of the programme and what it will deliver, plus a number of personal video perspectives from those involved. 

People can donate to the DNRC via the website or by sending a cheque made payable to “The DNRC” to DNRC, PO Box 76, Rotherham, S63 9XY.  People can also give just £5 by texting ‘DNRC’ to 70140.

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Contacts for further information:

Ben Copithorne or Emily Barnes at Camargue on 020 7636 7366 or