Michael Tu, Trustee of There but Not There and Chairman of Arundel Festival
The adage ‘If you want something doing ask a busy person’ could have been invented for Michael. A successful company director, he has been thrice Mayor of Arundel, has been a Town Councillor for fifteen years and is also the Chairman of the Arundel Festival. Hardly overburdened with free time, when approached to be involved in the There But Not There campaign to mark end of the first World War, however, he simply couldn’t refuse.
“The charity’s three aims are to commemorate, educate, and heal,” he explained, adding that the idea is for communities to purchase silhouettes of soldiers – ‘Tommies’ – to represent their fallen.
“It is an amazing project and in Arundel, brilliantly, both churches installed ninety-three silhouettes; two sets of silhouettes to remember the same people who are now no longer just names on a wall. And that’s ninety-three different stories. In the cathedral we have positioned four brothers together, and in St Nicholas Church twelve boys from the choir are all represented by silhouettes in the choir stalls. The charity’s ambition is to roll this out nationwide and there are grants for smaller communities available. The poppies in the Tower marked the start of the First World War and this is something special that marks the end.”
Telling me how once purchased silhouettes can be placed at war memorials, in places of worship, schools, workplaces or wherever the absence of a soldier or soldiers is keenly felt, Michael also told me how ten-inch silhouettes are available for individuals to buy, with over half the cost split between The Royal Foundation, Walking With The Wounded, Combat Stress, Project Equinox: Housing Veterans and Medical Students, Help for Heroes and Commonwealth War Graves Foundation.
“And for a small fee Timpsons will engrave your Tommy and pass all proceeds to disadvantaged people, including to ex-servicemen and women.”
Hoping to raise up to Â£15 million, Michael (whose business was based in Petworth for many years) said: “There is a lot of bad stuff going on in the world, but thinking about what happened one-hundred years ago puts it into context. A million people going off to war and not coming back? We can’t ever forget that.”
As for Arundel Festival, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, he said: “Created by the community, we welcome visitors from all directions for ten days of arts, music and more, including the oldest walking gallery trail in the world, Shakespeare in castle and Abba on the Hill. To celebrate our anniversary we are also holding a 70s themed dress-up day on bank holiday Monday. It was a challenging time for fashion, but it will be great fun!”
And while it keeps him busy, Michael acknowledges that giving time to good causes has its own rewards.
“We all want to feel a sense of belonging and getting involved with projects like There But Not There and the Festival is extremely fulfilling.”
There But Not There: www.therebutnotthere.org.uk
Arundel Festival: www.arundelfestival.co.uk