The story of two Burton upon Trent, World War One hero’s Lilly Thomas & William Coltman VC, will come to life at the Brewhouse Arts Centre on Wednesday 23rd January.
Written by local storyteller and author Maria Whatton, the play has already toured local primary schools reaching over 1400 children, receiving tremendous support and excellent feedback.
By the end of the World War One conflict in 1918, Lance Corporal William Coltman had become the most highly decorated ‘Other Rank’ soldier in the British Army; a position he still holds to this day. By the time he returned home in 1919 he had been awarded; The Victoria Cross (VC), the Distinguished Conduct Medal and Bar (DCM & Bar), the Military Medal and Bar (MM & Bar) and had received a Mention in Dispatches (MID). What makes him unique is that he achieved all of this as a regimental stretcher bearer and for never having fired a shot in anger.
Lilly’s story is less well known but shouldn’t be. Lily saved countless men’s lives by galvanising the Burton community to send desperately needed parcels to Prisoners of War. By the time Burton prisoners began to arrive home after the war Lilly had sent out more than 25,000 parcels to East Staffordshire POWs. The many men she had helped held a reception for Lily calling her godmother and explaining how the parcels had kept them alive and the messages had given them hope. In her reply Lily addressed the men as her godsons and said that the work had been a labour of love.
We have two brilliant professional actors to bring the stories of Lily& Billy alive.