Powerful Poppy tribute for public building

A public building in Bury St Edmunds is marking Remembrance-tide with a display featuring over 4000 red poppies crocheted and knitted over the past nine months by staff, friends and families.

They responded to a call from colleague Sally Kelly, from Customer Services at West Suffolk House, which is home to West Suffolk councils, Suffolk County Council, East of England Local Government Association and West Suffolk Central Commissioning Group.

The outcome is a huge sheet of poppies, falling three storeys into the light filled reception area.

Sally explains,

‘My inspiration came from the moving display at Walsham le Willows church last November. I have always been aware of how my family was affected by World War One and felt that our building could be a good backdrop for a display. I showed photos to my colleagues in Customer Services and asked them if they could knit. The idea snowballed and it very quickly became clear that many of our colleagues, family and friends wanted to make their own personal contribution to a special commemoration.’  

The Customer Service Team planned and coordinated the work to shape the display from the poppies that flooded in. They have also created commemoration boards to be displayed at shared council offices in Haverhill, Mildenhall and Newmarket. And a limited number of the special poppies have been held back for people to wear in support of the Poppy Appeal, in return for a donation. They are available at reception at West Suffolk House.

Mrs Pip Davies Bury St Edmunds Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal Organizer said,

‘I thank everyone who has contributed to this thoughtful and impressive tribute. I am deeply appreciative of the support it lends to the Poppy Appeal in this centenary year, and I hope that everyone who sees it finds it as meaningful and moving as I have.’

Cllr Margaret Marks, Mayor of St Edmundsbury said,

‘This project has tapped into the deep local memory of when Bury St Edmunds was a garrison town. A hundred years ago, young men from as far as Cambridge and Newmarket walked in to the town to join up, leaving few lives untouched. I am honoured to have been a small part of the effort to commemorate their service and sacrifice.’  

Sally Kelly adds,

‘Seven of my great uncles and both my grand-fathers fought in World War One, and three of them died. My Great Uncle William Charles Sadler served with the 5th Battalion Suffolk Regiment. He was just 22 when he was killed in action and has no known grave. He is just a name on a memorial in Jerusalem and in his local church. War memorials show that my family is far from unusual, and I think the success of this project is proof of the power of commemoration.’

The poppy display will hang at West Suffolk House until Friday 16 November. Options for what will then happen to it are being explored. Anyone interested in using it, or wishing to bring a group to view it, should contact customer.services@westsuffolk.gov.uk 01284 758884