September 23 2014 Latest news:
Thursday, July 10, 2014
Hundreds of knitted poppies have embellished a Suffolk church with a sea of colour as part of a moving display commemorating the First World War centenary.
Worshippers at St Mary’s Church in East Bergholt carried out the striking transformation in memory of those who gave their lives for the freedom of others.
Flower arranger Caryl Smith, 66, said she was struck with idea after opening the church doors many months ago and suddenly imagining it “filled with poppies”.
“It just snowballed from there,” she said.
“I put out the request for people to send in their knitted poppies and we had them coming in from all over the county.
“We’ve got well over 2,000 of them now with more still coming in – I didn’t expect it to be so moving.”
The poppies have been sewn together in bundles of 200 and then fixed on four pillars in the church as part of a display, which includes paintings and a replica trench.
The paintings, many of which were produced by Mrs Smith’s fellow flower arrangers, feature interpretations of the ode of remembrance taken from Robert Laurence’s poem For the Fallen.
Mrs Smith said the verse was “extremely moving” and the artists’ interpretations had been a great success.
Reverend Canon Stephne van der Toorn, the rector at St Mary’s, said she was “very proud of everyone involved”.
“We are not celebrating war, we are remembering the enormous sacrifice that went on, not only for the men who went to war but also the women who stayed at home and the children who had to manage without their fathers,” she said.
The commemorative exhibition will remain on display until Monday, August 4, when a centenary service will be held.
Visitors are invited to view the display and can purchase spare poppies for a suggested donation of at least £1 to Help for Heroes and the Royal British Legion.
Mrs Smith said the response had been very enthusiastic, with many visitors saying the church looks “absolutely stunning”.
“I’m just so grateful that so many people have visited and the money is coming in for the charities because they do such a fantastic job for our soldiers,” she said.
“We are trying to commemorate the fact that so many people lost their life fighting for our county to give us the freedom that we’ve got today – it just a pity that we don’t seem to have learned more from it.”
The church is open every day, with refreshments served between 10am-noon, Monday to Thursday.