A new permanent war memorial in Seaham is to be installed in the shadow of the Tommy statue in a project to be led by the people.
Seaham Field of Remembrance will be funded by supporters, with the completed display to feature around 800 resin poppies attached to the Terrace Green railings.
It aims to represent all those from the town lost in conflict and will create a back drop for the seafront cenotaph and Ray Lonsdale’s Eleven O One statue of ‘Tommy’, a First World War I soldier.
Supporters will be invited to pay £30 per poppy to help cover its £30,000 cost, with the details of all men and women killed as they served in the Armed Forces drawn up to help families trace a relation if they wish to pledge their flower in their name.
The poppies will measure around 6ins across and are brushed with bronze powder to represent the Memorial Plaque known as the ‘Dead Man’s Penny’ which was issued after the First World War to the next of kin of all British and Empire service personnel lost.
A name and serial number will be added in the same fashion as the Commonwealth war graves.
I think this is going to look fantastic and it will enhance the Terrace Green, which already has the cenotaph and the Tommy statue.Brian Scollen
The project is being led by local historian Brian Scollen and Gary Richardson, a retired Nissan worker who spent 11 years in the RAF as a ground electrician.
Gary, was inspired to come up with the idea in honour of his great-grandfather Thomas Richardson, a Dawdon pitman who became a member of the First Tyneside Scottish 20th Northumberland Fusiliers.
The father-of-six was killed on July 1, 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme, which was launched just the day after his 46th birthday.
Gary, 63, said he came up with the idea after seeing a poppy placed outside the home of First World War soldiers in Washington in 2014.
Allan Scott, the Washington artist who helped make that display, is helping the Seaham project create its own flowers, with hopes it will be well under way by Armistice Day.
Gary said: “It’s being put forward as there’s no set memorial in Seaham for everybody that died in all the wars and I’d seen on television a report about the Washington poppy fund and I thought it was a great idea.
“I think it’s going to look brilliant. “We’ve already had a public consultation at Byron Place to ask people what they thought of it and they were all behind it and we’ll be at Seaham Carnival this weekend with the Armed Forces to do the same with a list of all those who died so people can do some research.”
Brian added: “I think this is going to look fantastic and it will enhance the Terrace Green, which already has the cenotaph and the Tommy statue.
“It’s going to be very emotive and solemn.”
The project is seeking support from a number of organisations, with both councils aware of the scheme, with funding applications to be made to a series of funds.