Diocese of Portsmouth

    Poppy cascade to honour those who died in war

    4 Sept. 2018

    THOUSANDS of poppies will cascade from a Hayling Island church in tribute to those who sacrificed their lives during wartime.

    St Peter’s Church in Northney, Hayling Island, will unveil the spectacular tribute next month as part of its commemorations of 100 years since the end of the First World War.

    More than 17,000 handcrafted poppies will cascade from scaffolding outside the 12th century church into the churchyard. The centrepiece will be a banner made from 350 poppies saying ‘For The Fallen’. The poppies have mainly been made by people on Hayling Island, but have also come from friends around the globe.

    Islanders have been knitting, crocheting and carving poppies for months as part of the project. The idea came Alyson Griffin, from the Northney Textile Crafts Group, who saw a cascade of knitted poppies hanging from a church in Scotland.

    Coleen Jackson, churchwarden at St Peter’s Church, said: “We were only planning to use around 6,000 poppies, but this has really taken off, and engaged the whole of the island.

    “More than 1,000 leaflets were circulated around the island and within days handcrafted poppies came flooding in. At one point the local wool shop ran out of wool. Some have been knitted, some crocheted, and some carved out of a branch that fell off a yew tree in our grounds.”

    St Peter’s Church will host a dedication service on October 7, when the tribute will be unveiled for the first time. It will then remain in place for the next six weeks until Remembrance Sunday.

    Alongside it will be an exhibition put together by Hayling’s University of the 3rd Age, which will highlight life on the island during the conflict. A timeline setting out the salient events from 1914 to 1919 will be displayed, as well as a list of the 105 casualties from the island, and more than 300 who served and returned.

    Members of the Northney Textile Crafts Group have co-ordinated the creation of the poppy tribute, sewing thousands of poppies onto large areas of netting that will be hung from the scaffolding. They’ve been meeting each week in the local community centre to work on it.

    One of the group, Carol Carter, said: “We are also sewing dedications to individual soldiers onto four panels. Some of those have come from the families of those who died, so it is quite emotional to read them.”

    Among the dedications is one to Alyson Griffin’s own grandfather Captain Sidney Charles Lloyd MC, on which she has written ‘the grandfather I never knew’.

    The Rev Jenny Gaffin, vicar of St Peter’s, said: “What a wonderful way to commemorate those who have served their country and given their lives for us. The whole community has embraced this project and we are very grateful to those who have supported the work.”

    Visitors can see the exhibition and cascade between 10am and 4pm, Monday to Saturday, from October 8 until November 12. School groups can visit on request.