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Major and Mrs Holt will be given a Centenary award in France for their battlefield tours

20 January 2014
by Emily Stott


A couple from Woodnesborough have been awarded a World War One Centenary medal for their contribution to remembrance tourism.

Tonie and Valmai Holt, known as Major and Mrs Holt, are leading authors and battlefield guide experts who will receive the award from the Conseil General de le Somme.

They will be the first and only Britons to claim this medal which will be awarded to them at a ceremony in Amiens in France on Wednesday.

Mrs Holt said: “We were quite surprised and pleased, we took our first tour to the Somme in 1978 when there weren’t any other tours being organised at that time.

“We took several thousand people to the area when we were doing the tours then when we gave it up and started writing guidebooks we wrote a lot about the Somme.

“It’s really nice that this has been recognised.”

Major and Mrs Holt ran the Battlefield Tour Company in the 1970s which was the first of its kind, and led the way in remembrance tourism before they sold the company and concentrated on writing guidebooks.

Their countless guidebooks of different battlefields have helped to shape this kind of tourism and has become essential reading for all those interested.

One of the main reasons they have been given this award is for their knowledge of World War One, which is extensive, having spent more than 35 years researching and leading tours to the battlefields.

They have located, described and recorded more than 1,000 memorials and their battlefield guides to the Somme, Ypres, Gallipoli, Normandy, Market-Garden and the Western Front are among the best-selling.

Mrs Holt added: “Several years ago they did a survey of British visitors and asked them what their main reason for visiting the Somme was and we were one of the top answers.”



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