Ripon’s spectacular Remembrance poppy display is down to community effort

Ripon’s display of poppies is now installed annually as a mark of respect for those who made the ultimate sacrifice, but the Remembrance Day event has also become a tourist attraction.

The town is currently decked with around 65,000 poppies, mostly knitted, which are there as a visible recognition to those who gave their lives in the two World Wars and other conflicts.

But like the Tower of London poppy installations which marked the centenary of WW1, Ripon’s display now attracts visitors from many miles away.

Within the last few days, North Yorkshire’s chairman Cllr Stuart Martin – who helps to ensure the display survives by providing support towards fundraising from his localities budget – has spoken to people in town from Cheshire and Lockerbie, visiting specifically to view the display.

It is an impressive sight and was made possible through a online campaign several years ago which saw knitted poppies donated from worldwide locations alongside widespread support from the local community.

Installing the display annually is a task which requires almost military precision – with volunteers from the Ripon Community Poppy Project, set up with assistance from Cllr Martin and residents Hazel Barker and Carol Dunkley.

Displays have been installed around the town and North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service staff volunteered to help get the blooms to some of the more hard-to-reach locations.

Cllr Martin said:

Those who made the sacrifice we remember gave us the freedom we have today. Without them, we would not be able to do the things we do and it is important to remember them.

Ripon is a military town and 300 of today’s troops will be present for a Remembrance Sunday service in the Spa Gardens, where Cllr Martin will also attend as County Council chairman, followed by a further service at the Cathedral, where the second of Ripon’s two war memorials is situated.

He has provided support from his localities budget towards a fundraising concert, which raises the funds needed to ensure the displays can be repeated annually.

In a further development, metal silhouettes produced to mark the centenary of the end of World War One have been mounted at Hell Wath nature reserve, following years in storage.

Cllr Martin has worked to acquire a license to have them installed at the site which is owned by Tarmac and was the country’s largest military training ground in WW1, with 30,000 troops on site.

That work has been done in conjunction with the Fields of Mud and Seeds of Hope project, with Dan Metcalf, Jeanne Mundy and Joe Priestley.

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