More than 3,000 poppies now line the streets of Sunderland after a community pulled together to remember our veterans.
Tied to railings and hanging from floral baskets, the ‘Walk of Poppies’ parades from Barnes Park to St Luke’s Terrace in Pallion.
It was unveiled at a special commemoration event at Pallion Action Group, in East Moor Road, to remember the bravery and sacrifice of those involved in the First World War.
Sunderland veteran, 102-year-old Ernie Jones, attended the event along with veteran groups from across the city and ward councillors from Pallion and Barnes.
Ernie said it was an honour to be invited along and he was impressed with the children’s performance.
He added: “We still talk about the war. I won’t let people forget.
“The best thing to happen was the final whistle. We all enjoyed that day. I was in France, we knew it was planned.
“I can’t describe it, the feeling when that whistle blew.”
Coun Karen Wood, manager of Parker Trust and ward councillor for St.Anne’s, said: “The idea for the ‘Walk of Poppies’ all came from our local children, who were inspired to create this community tribute after talking to residents of care homes and veterans and hearing about the sacrifices made during war and military service.
“While they would usually use their spare time at the activities club planning and making decorations for their annual Halloween and Christmas parties, they decided instead to devote all their time and effort to this project and its success is all down to their hard work and determination.
“What has made it all the more special is the fact older members of the community have also become involved, and people of all ages from across the generations are sharing their skills, talents and experiences to create the ‘The Walk of Poppies’ which will be here until Armistice Day.”
Locally based artist Thomas Conlon has painted Poppies and WWI Remembrance themed images on recycled ‘for sale’ signs dotted along the route, while Wayne Noble has created a ‘waterfall’ of Poppies and art work in the gardens of Parker Trust on Kayll Road where the activities club is based.
The ‘Walk of Poppies’ which was funded by Sunderland City Council’s West Area Committee, was officially opened by the Mayor of Sunderland, Councillor Lynda Scanlan at Pallion Action Group after a lone bugler plays the Last Post.
Coun Scanlan said: “I’ve been involved with Karen and Parker Trust for quite some time now. She brought the children to the Mayor’s Parlour and we asked them to be community angels, community champions and to do something for the community.”
She added: “The kids have been on litter picks and dismantled pop bottles and painted them red and made the most amazing poppies – it’s fabulous.
“And of course we’ve come down here to Pallion Action Group where they have recited poetry, sang songs, they’ve entertained the veterans.
“It’s their special dedication to World War One – they’ve been little stars.”
During the official launch of the Walk of Poppies, there was a recital of the iconic wartime poem In Flanders Fields by young local volunteers and children and young people dressed in specially poppy-decorated aprons served their older guests with tea and cakes.
Local volunteers, businesses and schools have also been involved with the Pallion Traders Group decorating St Luke’s Terrace, and children from Richard Avenue Primary School and Diamond Hall also making poppies to be displayed.
One of the children involved Leon aged nine, said: “When we visited local care homes it was amazing listening to older people. We all learned about how families suffered a hundred years ago during the First World War, and we wanted to do something to help the community remember the sacrifices people made and show how proud and grateful we are for all they did for us.”
Luke, also aged nine, added: “We thought that instead of making decorations for our parties it was more important to make Poppies for this display, and we hope everybody likes them.”
Local mother and resident Ratna Kumari, who was one of the local volunteers helping stitch on Poppies to the aprons, said: “I wanted to get involved as it makes me feel good, I got to meet new people and have made friends during this time.”