As we approach the period of Remembrance, the Knaresborough Branch of the Royal British Legion has some very special plans for this year’s commemoration.
The lamppost poppies, introduced for last year’s WW1 centenary commemoration, will return but this year will be complemented by army, navy and air force flags along the High Street, Market Place and surrounding streets.
The main focus though is around the ‘Knit for Knaresborough’ project which began earlier this year and will build to the centenary of the Royal British Legion in 2021.
Knaresborough Branch vice-chair David Houlgate said:
This is our most ambitious project yet and this Friday, 25th October 2019, with the help of Harrogate Borough Council, we will be installing 7 large wreaths and 7 motifs to the Courthouse Museum and fencing.
A number of trees will be decorated with poppies and there will be a silhouette of the ‘unknown’ soldier’ in the Castle grounds. This has all been made possible by the help and support of friends of the RBL who have given up their time to knit thousands of poppies over the past 6 months.
The project has been co-ordinated by member Brenda Pitchfork and the Legion is grateful for her efforts with the project. But this is only stage one. Next year the hope is that the installation will be even bigger and then more so in 2021.
Commemoration is only part of the Poppy fortnight, fundraising is another and the Legion is hoping to exceed its record breaking collection of last year but it needs volunteers to do so.
David Houlgate said:
Unfortunately time takes its toll and we now have very few activists and membership has dwindled. There is a danger that the Branch will not be able to continue for much longer unless we get more members. Anyone can join and this year for the very first time the poppy will be used to remember civilian victims of war and terror as we move to ensure that Remembrance is inclusive of all modern Britain and acknowledges the wider impact of conflict
Last year the Branch raised a £30,229.93, a staggering amount from the townsfolk but a figure we hope to exceed this time round. So we are looking for volunteers to help sell poppies at either Lidl or at M&S at the retail park. Even if it’s just for an hour it will help. If anyone can do this then please get in touch with our Chair, Alan on 07984 700429.
The Branch also has its traditional poppy supper fundraiser at Knaresborough Working Men’s Club on Wednesday 6 November and a market stall on the same day.
Brenda Pitchfork said:
We have a three year plan. This year we are decorating the court house.
Next year we will decorate the bowling green side of the castle to mark 75 years since Victory in Europe.
Then in 2021 we will also decorate the river-facing side of the castle mark 100 years of the Royal British Legion.
All the poppies have been made out of wool, taking about 30minutes for each one. We have had poppy post box at the Knaresborough library and we are really grateful to everyone that has donated.
The wreaths on the top of the Court House been made by the WI and a local joiner, Ted Daniel made the silhouette of the saluting soldier.
It’s going to be a very busy fortnight.
Last year we kept the wreaths from the war memorial in the castle grounds. A number of local schools have taken the petals and fixed them to sticks. The schools are all planned to come and plant their poppies in the grass next to the bowling green. It is great to have the involvement of 5 local schools.
Thank you to Harrogate Borough Council for fixing some of the poppies in the more difficult places to get to.
Andrew Jones MP along with the Mayor of Knaresborough, Christine Willougby, will also formally visit the display.
There will also be a service on Sunday, 10 November, that attracts a large crowd, along with the Foundation College Cadet soldiers. Also on the 11th hour on 11 November there is a gathering.