Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Where have all the flowers gone? Memorial Poppies stripped from Park

Hundreds of poppies sown by members of the public to commemorate the fallen of WWI have all been removed overnight from Happy Mount Park in Morecambe.

The poppies were part of a project by Morecambe Poppyscatter, a fundraising group set up locally by Heysham bus driver Steve Trainer,  to commemorate service personnel killed in  WWI, on its centenary. They are trying to raise £136,904.30 - one penny for every service person killed in the Great War,  which will be donated to the Royal British Legion and the Commonwealth Wargraves Commision.

One of the ways they have been doing this is by the sale of Poppy seeds to the public who then scattered them in a flower bed in Happy Mount Park which the council kindly gave over for this use.  In May hundreds of poppies were beginning to grow.

But sadly, when Steve Trainer visited the park this week he had a terrible shock. He said:

"I went back to the park yesterday to find that somebody has entered the park, in the evening we guess, and stripped every single poppy from the bed. They didn't touch any other plant in the bed - only the poppies.

"So on behalf of Poppyscatter, first of all I want to apologise to all you kind people out there who bought seeds and scattered them and, secondly, if anyone has an hour to spare on Friday morning they would be more than welcome to come down to the park and help us to strip the bed, turn it over and re-seed it (all seeds provided).

"Also if anybody knows anything about what happened please contact me on facebook or on 0780 755 8864. You will not be named but the people responsible will be prosecuted . THANK YOU."

The poppies have been removed completely from the park - an act that must have taken some time and organisation. All the other varieties of plants and seedlings nearby were left untouched.

A Lancaster City spokesperson told Virtual-Lancaster:

"We are unsure as to what happened to the poppies.  However, we believe these are being replaced this week by the organisers of Morecambe Poppy Scatter and the council will be supporting the event with the provision of compost and tools.  The newly sown poppies should be in full bloom later this year."

Steve expressed his feelings to Virtual-Lancaster today, but they were not entirely printable and he has our warmest sympathies. He said,

'The memorial is not solely to commemorate our service personnel. This centenary will be one of our last chances to really try to connect with the terrible loss of millions of people on all sides in the Great War and to think about the lives that these flowers symbolise."

"The flowers were sown by members of the public, who wanted to share and support this message in such a good way. It's unbelievable that anyone could show such total disrespect."

But it's just a temporary setback. Everyone is invited to help with the reseeding at Happy Mount Park this Friday morning 6 June, and Steve's Poppyscatter group has more plans.  Poppy seeds will also be scattered in Bare Village at this year's BareFest on Saturday, at Princes Crescent in Bare.

If you would like to support the Poppyscatter initiative, you can buy packets of  poppyseeds at Bare Pharmacy, at George's Cafe in Lancaster Bus Station, at the Welcome Cafe in Morecambe's Arndale Centre, and in the cafe at Happy Mount Park. You can scatter them at home and you are also invited to scatter some or all of them in the dedicated beds at Happy Mount Park and also in Lancaster Garden of Remembrance next to Lancaster Town Hall.

You can find out more about Morecambe Poppyscatter at their website http://www.poppyscatter.co.uk/ or visit Poppyscatter Morecambe on facebook.

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