Field of Poppies
written by Pam Laking, Friends of St Ives
The Friends of St Ives decided earlier this year to plant a field of Poppies to commemorate the 100th anniversary of WW1.
With the help of the Turf Institute (STRI,) who are based at St Ives, the ground was prepared, with the creation of a wide grassy path and sweeping earth beds ready for the seeds.
The Co-op Memorial Group had a memorial stone made with the names of the groups and companies involved. Made of grey marble, black engraved words and scarlet poppies, it hopefully we be a lasting memorial for another hundred years.
The little meadow is situated within the Mansion grounds and permission was kindly given by Elder Homes there, to plants thousands of poppy seeds throughout the field.
The public came along in May including many children and planted the seeds and we all looked forward to ‘a sea of red’ in July.
However weeks went by with no signs of even one poppy plant and eventually we decided to hold the commemorative ceremony and the memorial stone dedication anyhow.
The ceremony was attended by about 60 people. The Rev Bob Evans from Harden led us in prayers and blessed the stone. Kath Gabbitas from the Friends of St Ives read the story of Stafford Ferrand, the only Ferrand we know of who fought on WW1. A brave man, it would seem, who won the Military Cross, but would never talk of his experiences of the war. The Ferrand family were the owners of St Ives during this period.
Mark Potts, the head manager of the Co-operative Funeral Services, came up from the South and read the poem ‘In Flanders Fields’.
Eve Haskins, clerk to Harden Parish Council, read the names of all the Harden men who fought in WW1 and then the names of those who’d sadly died. She then read the two famous lines from the poem ‘For the Fallen’, ending ‘We will remember them’.
Judith Hayles from Harden movingly played the last post on a bugle whilst the Standard was lowered followed by a minutes silence and the Standard was then raised.
Pam Laking, Chair of Friends of St Ives, introduced the readers and told the story of our poppy field with ‘no’ poppies. She said that the seeds could still germinate at any time within the next 50 years. So we must all keep watching and hoping.
Elder Homes was represented by Heather Craven.
The Bingley British Legion provided a giant poppy shape covered in small fabric poppies and also fabric poppies on wires which Kath and her husband ‘planted’ in the field and some crosses to place around the stone.
Everyone said it was a beautiful ceremony, not celebrating War, but acknowledging the suffering and death that occurred and is still occurring around the world today.