Ripon to honour fallen with tens of thousands of knitted poppies lining the streets

Cadets in the Spa Gardens at last year's Remembrance Service.
Cadets in the Spa Gardens at last year's Remembrance Service.

Tens of thousands of poppies are being knitted by the Ripon community to line the route from Spa Gardens to the Cathedral as part of the city's Remembrance commemorations this year.

The 'avenue of poppies' will form a visual centrepiece for Remembrance this year, as Ripon joins communities across the country to mark the Centenary of the end of the First World War, and remember those who served and lost their lives in other conflicts.

Businesses along the route are being invited to decorate their shop windows with poppies to show their support, and already a band of knitters is forming to make the enormous display happen.

In a whole community effort, churches, schools and local groups are also being asked to help make Ripon a "destination for Remembrance."

Project coordinators Coun Stuart Martin and Sarah O'Connell are keen to hear from as many people as possible who are interested in getting involved - from Ripon to surrounding towns and villages, and even from across the country and the world. Last year thousands of knitted poppies in Thirsk attracted support from as far as Australia.

With an overwhelming reaction on social media, Ripon's avenue of poppies is already becoming widely known.

Coun Martin said: "I am under no illusion that it will be a lot of hard work, but if we can get the city behind us, we can do it. Everybody is affected by the two world wars and conflicts since then - whether you have a family member or know someone who has been involved or affected. I think that's why this idea of the poppies has hit a chord with people.

"We want to harness that energy and enthusiasm for the poppies to help make this a real community event. I can't thank people enough for their response to this."

The owner of the Sun Parlour cafe, Caroline Bentham along with her mum, will be covering the gates of the Spa Gardens with poppies, and if the necessary permission is given, Stuart and Sarah will also be looking to decorate the bandstand and other parts of the gardens.

After some criticism from residents about how Ripon looked for Remembrance last year, Coun Martin hopes this new project will make all the difference.

He said: "I saw a lot of posts on Facebook about last year's Remembrance, saying that Ripon didn't look anything like some of the other towns around. I was determined then to try and improve, and help make Ripon a destination for Remembrance, the place to come and remember the fallen."

There are plans to deck out the front of the Town Hall with poppies, and there are discussions about having some purple knitted poppies to remember all the animals killed in war.

The Dishforth Military Wives Choir has also expressed an interest in backing the display. The aim is to have the poppies up for one or two weeks before Remembrance, and for one week afterwards.

To find out more about how to get involved, contact Stuart Martin by emailing Bigstu.martin@virgin.net or calling 07811 390448.