Stunning poppy display created from plastic bottles by volunteers in Jarrow's West Park

An innovative and beautiful temporary war memorial is in place in a popular park after volunteers refused to allow lockdown to stop Remembrance Sunday commemorations.

By Tony Gillan
Friday, 6th November 2020, 3:27 pm

In a painstaking effort, the Friends of West Park Jarrow removed the bottoms of hundreds of old plastic bottles, then painted them to create poppies. The poppies have been carefully placed around the obelisk, the park’s centrepiece, to create what will be a war memorial for the next few days.

Also on display are silhouetted World War One British soldiers. The four Tommies are all wearing poppies and standing guard over the display.

The heart of the display, quite literally, is the heart-shaped poppy wreath at the base of the obelisk. The perimeter railing has also been decorated with the flowers.

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Voluntary group Friends of West Park Jarrow have painstakingly created a temporary war memorial. Picture by Stu Norton.

Remembrance events have been severely restricted due to social distancing. However, people can still pay their respects in the park, as long as they stick to the rules.

Volunteer Deni Wilson said: “Four or five volunteers decided to get together and that we needed to mark the occasion. We weren’t sure what we were allowed to do at first, but the Government has now said we can do this.

“Jarrow Cemetery provided us with a template for the soldiers, which Paul Moore, who started the group, cut out from plywood and painted black. He then sunk them in concrete.

“Painting all the poppies and the other preparation took weeks. But once all that was done it took about half a day to set up the display.”

The heart of the display. All the poppies were created from old plastic bottles.

Most of the group, formed in 2009 and entirely self-funded, have very personal reasons for their efforts with a number of close relatives having served their country in the armed forces.

Deni added: “It’s something close to my heart. It means a lot to all of us. We’re already making plans for next year.”

The group works all year round and has played a huge part in securing coveted Green Flag status for the park for the last five consecutive years.

If anyone would like to donate to the upkeep of the park, they should visit the Friends of West Park Jarrow’s Facebook page.

Four Tommies stand guard over the temporary cenotaph in West Park, Jarrow.

Jarrow’s pop-up Poppy Shop in the Viking Centre is now closed. But socially distanced contributions can still be made in West Park, 10.30-11.30am, Sunday, November 8.

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Voluntary group Friends of West Park Jarrow. From left: Founder of the group Paul Moore, Margaret Stephen, Jan Choudhury, Deni Wilson and Maureen Duke.