Many of you will know from previous blogs that the Dartmoor village of Northlew lost proportionally more enlisted men during WW1 than any other town or village in the UK. In this centenary year it seemed right for Suttons to work with Northlew and to create a specially designed seed packet – the Northlew Poppy. Sales of the Northlew Poppy have so far raised an amazing £10,000 donation for the village memorial store fund – thank you to all our customers who have so far bought a packet.
On the evening of 28th June 2014 the village of Northlew gathered, with friends and visitors, to pay tribute to those brave men and boys who 100 years ago fought for our freedom. The evening began with Bernard Bejar, Suttons managing director, planting a Canadian Red Oak tree. Donated by Suttons this tree will turn red each autumn, in time for Armistice Day – a significant reminder of the war for generations to come.
To the beautiful yet solemn sound of Elgar’s Nimrod the crowd in the village square looked to the skies to watch a 1917 biplane, SE5, approach the village. Flying around and over the village square the plane seemed to wave its wings whilst the crowd below clapped and cheered. As the plane then headed home a beautiful horse entered the square ridden by a young soldier in 1914 uniform followed by similarly clad foot soldiers. It was fitting that a horse be included in the memorial event as so many died during that dreadful war.
Readings of war poems followed with a silent crowd hanging on each poignant word. It’s often said that WW1 produced more poetry than any other conflict. The quality certainly matched the quantity.
Children from primary schools belonging to the Suttons Little Green Sprouts scheme had downloaded and coloured in a poppy template from our website and these were “planted” in the village square on a patch of grass specially brought over from Flanders. A true corner of a foreign field.
A Parade led by the Devonshire regiment with standards lifted the mood as they played “Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag”, “It’s a long way to Tipperary” and other similarly appropriate tunes. A reminder that in the early days of the war it was viewed by many as an adventure that wouldn’t last long. Sadly how wrong they were. There followed speeches, prayers, the Ode to Remembrance, Last Post, a 7 gun salute and then an amazing 3D light show showing images from the Somme and the general chaos and destruction of battle.
The 3D light show ended with a cascade of blood red poppy petals and a roll call of the fallen. A very sombre end to a poignant and memorable evening in which Suttons felt honoured to have been involved.
If you’d like to view a video of the event, courtesy of Andy Ballantyne from Heart South West, please click here.
More Photo’s from the day