During the First World War, the village of Northlew had the sad distinction of losing a greater percentage of young men from those enlisted than any other town or community in the UK. The community now is ensuring that those brave men are remembered, not only during the centenary period, but for years to come.
With support from Suttons Seeds, over 20 miles of verges have been planted with over 300 million Flanders Poppy seeds either side of the route to Okehampton (which is on a direct line to Flanders) and along the lane to the local railway station (which is the route the men would have taken on their way to war). This Poppy Avenue is expected to be in flower between June and August, providing a fitting tribute to those lost during the war, for all to see as they travel through Devon. It is expected to be the largest poppy avenue in the world, and effectively the largest war memorial in the northern hemisphere.
Suttons Seeds are also helping to ensure that poppies are ‘planted’ in the woodland areas where it is too shady for the poppies to grow. The ‘Little Green Sprouts’ fundraising scheme encourages children and schools to download a poppy template to colour in and post to Suttons who will ensure they join the Avenue. The template can be accessed at www.littlegreensprouts.co.uk
Other acts of commemoration in Northlew include laying a brass plaque in the village square, engraved with the poem ‘The Soldier’ by Rupert Brooke, surrounded by flanders grass and poppies, and the planting of a Canadian Oak (donated by Suttons Seeds) which turns red around Armistice Day, and will grow to be the tallest tree in the village; a fitting reminder for generations to come.
On 28th June the village will host a commemorative event including a 3D projected display onto the old buildings of the square showing old newsreel reports, images and sounds of the war, and poems and letters written by soldiers to their families back home. A collection of First World War bi-planes will be opening this event with a flyover.
Over 3 weekends from 21st June to 6th July, the village will host a small interactive exhibition showing memorabilia from local people and a special mannequin that comes to life to tell the story of a day in the life of a First World War soldier.
See how other communities are commemorating the centenary here. If your village, town or group is planning an event or a commemoration tribute that you would like to share with others, please send details to firstname.lastname@example.org