Thousands of poppies fill village church for Remembrance Sunday

A visitor to the Walcott church admiring part of the display. Picture: Maurice Gray

A visitor to the Walcott church admiring part of the display. Picture: Maurice Gray - Credit: Archant

Walcott Church and many supporters have created a very special display for Remembrance Sunday – The 11th day of the 11th month 2018, to commemorate the centenary of the Great War and others who lost their lives in other wars, with a magnificent display of over 4000 poppies. The whole display was created by 45 people, some from Australia.

As people visit and contemplate the poignancy of the poppies, a question often asked is, 'how did it all evolve'?

Over a year ago a member of our Walcott Church congregation saw a knitted poppy and decided she would like to 'play' and knit one for herself. Unfortunately, she had no pattern, so brought her problem to Café Chat (which meets each Tuesday at Walcott Village Hall). A colleague was able to provide a pattern, and, just as the poppy seed can lay dormant until the ground is disturbed, so an idea began to germinate – well fertilised by a growing number of members of the community who wished to produce their own poppies.

Visions of a display emerged – initially a display focussed around the War Memorial in Walcott Church depicting a flood of tears. Each tear to be represented by a poppy and emerging from a scarred section of battlefield with three crosses (each made from nails of a design prevalent in that era).

Still the vision expanded as more individuals and groups wished to contribute. Word spread far and wide and we were privileged to receive poppies made by bell ringers in Australia! The explanation about the wool used by the bell ringers in Australia is: -

At the end of the First World War the President of Turkey promised the Australian and New Zealand mothers of fallen soldiers in Turkey, that their graves would be tended by Turkish mothers.

Thus a bond was formed. In 2015 it was decided that a special wool, made in Turkey and sold solely in Australia and New Zealand, called Gallipoli Yarn, would be used to raise funds for the Returned Services Association (similar to the Royal British Legion). The labels carry the flags of Australia, New Zealand, and Turkey. These poppies are made from this wool.

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The display grew to include reference to desert campaigns with poppies linked by golden ribbon; reference to be made to the Navy and also the embryo Royal Air Force.

The poppies are deliberately of different materials, size and shape to reflect the diversity of those who comprise 'the fallen'.

Others served, and died, as nurses etc, and the display incorporates their sacrifice.

Not all of 'the fallen' are human and thus the idea was born of remembering animals and birds who were present in the conflict. The humble poppy is again used, but this time in the purple format reflecting the initiative launched by 'Animal Aid' to commemorate the animal victims of war.

A pigeon represents 'Cheri Ami' a carrier pigeon who was awarded the Croix de Guerre, whilst an effigy of the humble mule represents all those of his kind immortalised in the poem 'The Forgotten'.

Mercy dogs were extensively used to locate casualties and the dog takes its place in the display.

The final display of poppies depicts the word 'Peace'.

We are indebted to all those who gave their time, needles and thimbles. Every contributor, whether they made only one poppy or hundreds has theirs included in the displays. It has been a long journey but along the way we have been privileged and humbled to hear the stories of families affected by the conflict, and witnessed the dedication of those who wished to commemorate the return to peace, but remember its price.

Bacton School have contributed with a display of their own.

The Remembrance Service and Holy Communion will be held at Walcott Church on Sunday 11th November at 10.30 am. Everyone is welcome to attend and remember the fallen in all wars.