Lord Ashcroft KCMG PC has today unveiled a new website giving details of his collection of Victoria Crosses (VCs), Britain and the Commonwealth’s most prestigious gallantry award for bravery in the face of the enemy.
Over the past three decades, Lord Ashcroft has purchased more than 180 VCs, making it the largest collection of its kind in the world. The new website, www.lordashcroftmedals.com, provides a mass of information about each VC and its recipient.
Lord Ashcroft said: “I am delighted to be able to provide detailed information about my entire VC collection for the first time. I am proud to have established the world’s largest collection of VCs and I am thrilled that, since 2010, these decorations have been on public display.”
Lord Ashcroft bought his first VC, which was instituted by Queen Victoria in 1856, at an auction in London in 1986. Although originally intended as a one-off purchase, he soon decided to build a collection.
His collection now contains more than one in eight of all the VCs ever awarded and his decorations are on display in a gallery bearing his name at the Imperial War Museum (IWM) in London. VCs and George Crosses (GCs) belonging to, or in the care of, the IWM are also on show in the gallery.
The new website, which went live at 9am today, runs to more than 55,000 words and contains personal information about the VC recipient and the action that led to his decoration. The London Gazette citation, that accompanied the award of each VC, is detailed in full.
It has been revealed today that – for the first time – a VC has been gifted to Lord Ashcroft’s collection. The donation was made by Alex and Susie Jerome: Mr Jerome’s great grandfather was awarded the VC for gallantry during the Indian Mutiny of 1857-8. Captain (later Major General) Henry Jerome received his decoration for three separate acts of courage when he was aged 28.
Alex Jerome, now retired and living in New Mexico, USA, said: “I got to hear about the collection of VCs built up by Lord Ashcroft and, the more I looked into it, the more impressed I became by what he had achieved. I was particularly impressed that Lord Ashcroft had gone to such lengths to put the collection on public display.
“I eventually decided that I wanted my great grandfather’s VC to be returned to Britain and put on display alongside the finest collection of such medals in the world.”
Lord Ashcroft said of the decision to gift the VC to his collection. “I am enormously grateful to Mr and Mrs Jerome for their wonderfully generous act. I am also immensely flattered that they have made the gift because they were so impressed by my VC collection and my decision to make it accessible to everyone.
“Major General Henry Jerome was an incredibly brave and distinguished soldier, and I am honoured to have his VC in my collection and in the gallery.”
Lord Ashcroft made a £5 million bequest so that his VC collection could go on public display and be enjoyed, free of charge, by tens of thousands of people. In November 2010, the Lord Ashcroft Gallery was opened by HRH The Princess Royal.
* To see Lord Ashcroft’s new website detailing his VC collection, visit www.lordashcroftmedals.com. Those wanting more information about the Lord Ashcroft Gallery should visit: www.iwm.org.uk/heroes.