Seaham artwork remembers fallen in run-up to Remembrance Day

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A stunning tribute to the fallen has been created in Seaham.

Hundreds of painted stones have been used to make a massive poppy - 16ft-wide - in the shadow of the seafront Tommy statue.

A  poppy made from stones collected from Seaham beachand arranged at the foot of the Tommy statue in Seaham, on Sunday

A poppy made from stones collected from Seaham beachand arranged at the foot of the Tommy statue in Seaham, on Sunday

The artwork is the brainchild of former serviceman Dave McKenna, who wanted to create something to link the statue to the town’s cenotaph.

“We have had help from the cadets and Seaham Veterans group,” said Dave.

The poppy will remain in place until this Sunday, Remembrance Day.

“It is not a permanent, fixture, it’s just there for this week,” said Dave.

I hope people will come down, have a look, reflect and remember, and that it will promote the Poppy Appeal.

Dave McKenna

“I hope people will come down, have a look, reflect and remember, and that it will promote the Poppy Appeal.”

Wearside Royal British Legion volunteers are hoping 2016 will be a record-breaking year for the appeal.

This year’s Washington fund-raising drive has already brought in thousands of pounds in its first week thanks to donations from the public.

The appeal was officially launched at the town’s Galleries shopping centre, with Washington and Sunderland West MP Sharon Hodgson doing the honours.

Volunteers who have painted stones from the beach at Seaham and made a poppy next to the Tommy statue, l-r Andrew Harrison, Philip Ridley, Dave Routlledge, Tracy Spencer, Alex Tinkler and Dave McKenna

Volunteers who have painted stones from the beach at Seaham and made a poppy next to the Tommy statue, l-r Andrew Harrison, Philip Ridley, Dave Routlledge, Tracy Spencer, Alex Tinkler and Dave McKenna

Royal British Legion (RBL) branch secretary Malcolm Pickering said: “The launch and indeed the first few days of fund-raising has gone very well I have to say.

“We’ve been cleaned out of the poppy tins and the cadets as ever have been brilliant.

“Since last Saturday alone we have raised about £6,500 in Asda in the Galleries and although we don’t know much Sainsbury’s have brought in yet, I expect it to be a similar amount.

“It’s fantastic, it really is.”

Washington MP Sharon Hodgson with poppy sellers Valerie Dunn, David Nichols, Ella Anderson, Malcolm Pickering, Daniel Smith and Tom Jenksinson, at The Galleries, Washington.

Washington MP Sharon Hodgson with poppy sellers Valerie Dunn, David Nichols, Ella Anderson, Malcolm Pickering, Daniel Smith and Tom Jenksinson, at The Galleries, Washington.

About £37,000 was raised as part of last year’s appeal and the hope is that this year’s figure will be even higher.

“Last year we were about £4,500 up on the previous year so we’d like to do the same this time,” added Malcolm.

“It’s ingrained into the psyche of the people in this area to donate to the appeal and they never let us down.

“You sometimes hear grandparents saying to children that the appeal is to help the “old soldiers” but we actually help younger servicemen and women who have fought in recent conflicts.

“We help with the process of soldiers who have lost limbs in getting their prosthetics and also assisting their dependents and families if they need us to.

“We will always try and help people who have served in the forces if they need us.”

The first Poppy Appeal was held in 1921, the founding year of the RBL.

Red silk poppies, inspired by the famous First World War poem In Flanders Fields, sold out instantly and raised more than £106,000.

The funds helped First World War veterans find employment and housing after the war had ended.