Poppy girls unveil their artwork in Sunderland to mark the 100th anniversary since the Battle of the Somme

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Thousands of hand-knitted poppies are hanging from a Sunderland bridge in memory of those who lost their lives in the Battle of the Somme.

Fatfield Bridge in Washington is awash with the poppies, created by the Washington Poppy Girls, as July 1 marks the anniversary of the day the bloodiest battle in World War One began.

Margaret Welsh, Poppy Girls co-ordinator.

Margaret Welsh, Poppy Girls co-ordinator.

The 2,016 poppies cascade over the side of the bridge to represent soldiers going over the top from the trenches and will be on display until the end of October.

Although most of the poppies are the traditional bright red, they are interlaced with other colours to bring together the past and the present day, as all colours of poppies are no available, and also to acknowledge the people of many different races who gave their lives during the conflict.

The idea was the brainchild of Wessington U3A where members have spent several years researching the 383 men and one woman who are named on the village war memorials in Fatfield, Washington and Usworth.

Having used knitted poppies in two previous small installations, members decided they wanted to mark the anniversary of the Somme with their most ambitious project yet.

The Poppy Girls with their artwork of knitted poppies.

The Poppy Girls with their artwork of knitted poppies.

Members, friends and family have been grabbing knitting needles over the last three months and have knitted up the 2016 colourful wool poppies, which are attached to 24 banners, set to be hung from the side of the bridge on June 30.

Margaret Welsh from Wessington U3A, said: "We are so thrilled with the finished artwork.

"I think it looks far more effective than we could ever have imagined."

"It is our own way of remembering and honouring the men from Washington who went off to this war."

The Poppy Girls in Washington.

The Poppy Girls in Washington.

Margaret said: "We are very proud, not only as a group, but at the way the community has come together with us to create the poppies."

The banners will be officially unveiled on the evening of Thursday June 30, at 10pm. That same evening, candles will be lit at the war memorial and 28 larger white poppies will be ‘planted’ to mark the 28 Harraton men who died on the first day of the battle on July 1, 1916.

On Friday July 1, a 20-minute film produced by Lonely Tower with Wessington U3A featuring the 94 Washington men who died in battle will be shown at venues across Washington and Durham.

Washington Men at the Somme will be shown simultaneously at 7.28am at the North Biddick Club, Fatfield Village, Holy Trinity Church, Washington Village and Holy Trinity Church, High Usworth. It will also be shown at the Beamish Museum Chapel at 11am and 1pm. An exhibition by the Washington group will also be on display at Beamish throughout the weekend.