To commemorate 100 years since the Battle of The Somme, the ‘Sky of Poppies’ art installation was unveiled at the Queensgate Shopping Centre on Wednesday July 6.
Visitors observed as the ceremony took place, a colourful display of felt handmade poppies hanging above their heads, to symbolise the lives that were lost in the battle.
Opening with a welcome from the Shopping Centre’s director, and followed by a speech from the artist and a poem from Poet Laureate Keely Mills, the display was revealed to the public to remember Peterborough’s own, who gave their today for our tomorrow.
The ceiling of the North Square is decorated with 1,000 felt poppies, each hand-crafted by members of the public, to represent men from all sides killed in the battle. The artist, Charron Pugsley-Hill, said, “I really believe that if people get involved, it becomes real and means more to them.”
Preparations for the project started in March this year, meaning months of hard work and dedication has been put in by those involved in a true show of admiration for the soldiers.
The installation will remain in Queensgate until November 18, to mark the end of the Battle of The Somme.
Queensgate’s Centre Director, Mark Broadhead, said, “We want these installations to stay up as long as possible. We hope to bring it back at appropriate times in future years.”
In the Battle of The Somme, 131 Peterborough soldiers gave their lives, which is a large number considering the size of Peterborough at the time. As a mark of respect each soldier’s name was read out at the opening ceremony, all of which are also displayed on the balcony above.
When asked what inspired her to create the display and to let the public get involved, Charron (pictured middle above) told ESP, “My husband is an expert on the First World War and because he is so interested in it, I wanted to do him a painting. I got completely hooked by it and the ‘Sky of Poppies’ came to me about a year ago.
“The Battle of the Somme was incredibly iconic so I wanted to do something iconic. I started talking to the Royal British Legion about a year ago and I’m here in my home city doing this, which is even more special to me.’
Members of the Royal British Legion also paraded through the square, before a moment of silence to remember the fallen.
The display was touching and it was great to see the people of Peterborough supporting the cause.
Photos: Emma Bothamley for ESP Magazine.