A spectacular display of poppies cascading down the side of the Westgate Towers has been installed today (Friday 26 October).
The joint commemoration project between the Royal British Legion (RBL) and the city council is to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War, and the installation was timed to coincide with today’s launch of the annual Poppy Appeal.
Local RBL representatives recruited volunteers to create the 3,300 poppies needed for the installation, including 700 which were made by 200 pupils from St Anselm’s School.
It involved cutting off the bottom of plastic bottles donated by the public. These were then shaped into poppies, sprayed red and attached to netting before being draped down the building.
The city council arranged the installation and had to seek special permission from Historic England to go ahead with it. Intrusive fixings to the building could not be used, due to the potential damage they might cause to the landmark towers.
Instead, the council’s building contractors DCB (Kent) Limited devised a way to attach the artwork using eyelets and a drainpipe already on the towers, along with lots of sandbags, wires, pipe insulation, an army slip sheet and a hosepipe filled with sand.
The project has been led on the RBL side by Andrew Heatlie, who is a Canterbury Branch member and organises the Poppy Appeal in the city each year.
He said: “This cascade is a result of the help and kindness of the people of Canterbury, who donated their plastic bottles, and a small team of 10 who completed the cascade.
“Special thanks go to Brewers for supplying the red spray paint, Whirligig Toys for being a collection point for bottles, St Nicholas Thanington for enabling us to make up the final cascade, the Princess of Wales Royal Regiment for giving us the netting and Classic Cars who sprayed many of the prepared bottle bottoms red. We are very grateful to everyone for helping to make this happen.”
The council’s Chief Executive, Colin Carmichael, said: “This idea was suggested to us by the Royal British Legion during last year’s Poppy Appeal and we were determined to help make it happen.
“There have been a few logistical issues to resolve along the way, but the finished piece has made all the work worthwhile. It is truly spectacular and a very moving way to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War in our city.”
The poppy installation was used as the backdrop for the launch of this year’s Kent Poppy Appeal later in the day.