FRIENDSHIPS blossomed at a care home when staff and residents planted sunflowers in memory of soldiers who died in the First World War.

Dementia and Alzheimer’s patients at Willowdene Care Home in Sedgefield, County Durham, planted and nurtured the flowers as part of the 1,245 Sunflower Project.

The project aims to plant sunflowers as a tribute to the 1,245 soldiers from Stockton-on-Tees that fought and died in the 1914-18 conflict.

Organised by Stockton Borough Council and musician and teacher, Mike McGrother, of The Wildcats of Kilkenny, it has seen free packs of sunflower seeds handed out and planted across Yarm, Stockton, Billingham,Thornaby, Eaglescliffe and other parts of Stockton Borough.

Each pack contained a tag bearing a soldier’s name to hang on the sunflower.

Angela Penman, activities co-ordinator at Willowdene Care Home, said: “It has been a wonderful challenge for us all to nurture the sunflowers and watch them grow.

“I think it has brought us all even closer together, as staff and relatives have also been involved and shared the experience with residents.

“Everyone is always asking how the sunflowers are coming along.”