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Durham: cascade of poppies to mark Remembrance centenary

Across the Diocese of Durham, churches and their communities are readying themselves to commemorate 100 years since the guns fell silent at the end of the Great War.

Many churches are staging displays of poppies or other visual displays of remembrance. One such church is Hillside Church St Cuthbert's Marley Hill just outside Gateshead, where a cascade of knitted poppies are seen emerging from one of its windows and falling like a river to the ground.

The hundreds of hours of work on the display at the 19th-century church involving knitting more than 550 poppies began many months ago.

The project was conceived by Katrina Chapman who said: “At last year's Remembrance Service I found it difficult to connect with the 112 names from Marley Hill and Sunnyside who sacrificed their lives for us in the First World War. I wanted to personally thank each and every one of them. I discussed my feelings with Vicar Glen and the possibility of making something in their memory for 2018. This led to many chats with friends at church and in the community as to how we could honour their efforts.

“The project was initially to knit one poppy for each soldier and display them against a church wall. As word spread many people asked if they could contribute. Crochet hooks and knitting needles sprang into action. This small project soon exploded and we realised that we would have enough poppies to achieve a cascade display at the front of the church.

“The community has certainly come together as a consequence of the poppy display. We received just under 3500 hits on Facebook as people captured the idea and were knitting in hospitals, aeroplanes, even on holiday in the Caribbean and Miami. The sense of commitment has been breathtaking, stories like that of an 84-year-old lady knitting through the pain of arthritis in her hands, others with sticking plasters covering blisters from the knitting needles and crochet hooks.”

Vicar of Hillside and Lobley Hill Rev Glen Macknight said: “The display has been an amazing opportunity for the church and the community to come together in an act of remembrance and togetherness.”

Katrina added: “Every knitted poppy will be displayed in either the cascade or in a wreath that has been made to lie with the others on Remembrance Sunday.

Rev Glen added: “The people of Lobley Hill Community Centre are also making a valuable contribution having made a flag 'lest we forget’, a large wooden poppy to be displayed outdoors, our messy church children have also decorated flags and made soldiers name tags as a fridge magnet these  will be placed on the church seats for people to take away.”

Anyone wishing to find a church to visit this Sunday can search on www.achurchnearyou.com. Details on a range of services and acts of remembrance can also be found on www.durhamdiocese.org.

PHOTOS: Keith Blundy

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