Free poppy seeds to commemorate First World War centenary

LEST WE FORGET: War veteran Doug Sayles, 94, with Declan Metcalf and Samantha McAllister, both ten

LEST WE FORGET: War veteran Doug Sayles, 94, with Declan Metcalf and Samantha McAllister, both ten

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PRIMARY school pupils helped to sow the seeds of Remembrance in Darlington, where free poppy seeds are being handed out to commemorate the centenary of the First World War.

Youngsters at Corporation Road Primary School were the first in the town to sow the free seeds, which are being distributed by deputy mayor, Gerald Lee.

Coun Lee, who is set to take over as Darlington mayor from 2013/14 incumbent Charles Johnson later in the year, has launched a campaign to plant more than a million poppy seeds across the borough.

Pupils at Corporation Road were supervised sowing the first of the seeds by 94-year-old naval veteran Doug Sayles, who served throughout the Second World War.

The seeds will be available to anyone who asks for them, while stocks last, and will be distributed by local councillors.

A number of seeds have already been put aside to be planted in nature reserves around Darlington and in town centre planters.

It is hoped that, over the next three months, areas of Darlington, including the town centre, will be bathed in a sea of red poppies, similar to that seen by First World War soldiers at the end of the hostilities and which inspired the poem In Flanders Fields.

Coun Lee said: “This is a really exciting and symbolic venture, which I hope everyone will get involved in.

“Poppies can grow almost anywhere, so anyone, gardener or not, can get involved and plant a few seeds, whether they be in a tub, a window box or in the garden.

“The poppy is a very visual symbol of World War One and later conflicts.

“Anything that brings a community together to commemorate this Centenary year is to be welcomed.”

Peter King, headteacher at Corporation Road, said: “We were very keen to participate in the poppy planting.

“We have a regular gardening club and these children have potted some of the poppy seeds but also sown some of them wild around school.

“Children are taught more about the Second World War at primary school than the First, so this is a very fitting and dignified way of helping them to understand the horrors and the sacrifices made by the soldiers and their families.”

To apply for your free poppy seeds, email gerald.lee@darlington.gov.uk or call 01325-314622.

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