99 Poppies

The poppies floodlit in red and green last night from the riverside to the church

Yesterday morning 99 metal poppies were installed in the grounds of St Mary’s Church. They have been made individually, from donated steel, at the Veterans’ Forge at Knitson, and then painted. The installation has taken some weeks to make, and the installation of the poppies in ranks of three is designed to reflect the marching of soldiers. They represent the 99 men from the town who left to serve in the forces in the First World War, but were killed in action.

Last night, at 8.00 p.m., the tenor bell of St Mary’s tolled, half-muffled 100 times, and quite a number of people stood in the church grounds carrying lanterns and candles, as we marked the beginning of eleven days of Remembrance in Swanage. It was in many ways a sombre gathering, but encouraging too, as we reflected on what has been, and remembered that we are about to mark the coming of peace in 1918 too. So commemoration and reflection are in mind at the same time as the thought of how nations and people absorb huge loss, but can celebrate the end of the carnage and resolve to build in hope for a new age.

John Mann