Lowestoft seafront poppies will mark war centenary
- Credit: James Bass
It led to the death of millions and left tragedy and devastation in its wake.
But the courage and sacrifice of those who lost their lives in the First World War will be remembered in Lowestoft this summer – at the town's own commemorative poppy field.
A group of Lowestoft-based Suffolk police cadets teamed up with workmen from Waveney District Council, Waveney Norse and Wellington Gardens Trustees to sow poppy seeds in flowerbeds on the seafront to help mark the 100th anniversary of the start of the conflict in 1914.
The flowers – which have become a potent symbol of wartime remembrance – should provide a colourful display to coincide with the centenary of the declaration of war in August.
The idea to mark the sacrifice made by so many from the Lowestoft area came from Robin Keightley, a former police officer and current identification procedures co-ordinator at Suffolk Constabulary.
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Over the past decade, he and his colleague Ross Mullenger have organised a number of battlefield tours which have allowed family, friends and colleagues to visit key locations linked to World War One and World War Two and honour those who served their country.
After Mr Keightley had met and spoken to Richard Hackney, operations manager for grounds at Waveney Norse, the idea was proposed to create a display at Wellington Gardens.
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Last Thursday, the plan became reality when seven Waveney police cadets were joined for the sowing of the first poppy seeds by the trustees, Waveney Norse staff and representatives from the Kirkley Business Association, which is supporting the initiative along with Waveney council.
Mr Hackney said: 'We'd like to thank the Wellington Gardens Trustees who kindly agreed to support the plan for the planting in this open space. The gardens are used by lots of people over the summer period and sowing the poppies is the first step to having a full display this summer.
'The trustees have also agreed to oversow seeds again, and we will also be using geraniums and potted poppies to try to maintain continuous flowering during the summer – to ensure we have a fitting display to encourage people to remember those who gave their lives.'
Sandra Nolan, one of the trustees, said she was pleased they could help. 'I think it's a lovely idea,' she said. 'We will work with Waveney Norse to maintain the display and are pleased that the gardens will be a reminder to both residents and visitors of the debt we owe those who served.'
Mr Keightley added: 'I'd like to thank everyone here for their help and support.
'Poppies have long played a major part in wartime remembrance and I thought it would be nice to mark the anniversary as many soldiers and sailors from the Lowestoft area served in both wars, and many of them are remembered on memorials in the town. When the poppies flower, we hope the gardens will help people remember and reflect on the sacrifices made.'
Deputy leader of Waveney, Stephen Ardley, said: 'This is a really nice way to commemorate the centenary, providing a physical, visible reminder for visitors to Wellington Gardens.
'We are very happy to support this scheme and any other ideas that our communities have to remember the sacrifices made 100 years ago.'
The initiative is just one of a number of activities planned across Waveney to mark the centenary of the start of the First World War.