The power of beautiful flowers used to remember town's First World War dead

Irene Green, 94, has been growing sunflowers in memory of her uncle who died in the Great War

Irene Green, 94, has been growing sunflowers in memory of her uncle who died in the Great War

First published in News Darlington and Stockton Times: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter (Stockton/Hartlepool)

A 94-YEAR-OLD woman has made a special effort to remember just one of the First World War's fallen soldiers from her home town.

Irene Green is one of hundreds of people in the borough of Stockton taking part in the 1,245 Sunflower Project.

The idea is to research the life of one of the area's 1,245 soldiers killed in the war and plant a sunflower in his memory.

Mrs Green decided to research the life of her uncle Alexander Boyd who died in battle.

She said: “I remember seeing a medal on the wall with his name when I was seven years old and I had no idea who he was. Hundreds of families were left bereaved after losing their loved ones but nobody talked about it back then. We have only just located his grave after all this time.”

Fellow Stocktonian Susan Stanley has been researching Joseph Henry Kirk, the soldier named on her sunflower tag, given to her by Stockton Borough Council as part of the project. Mrs Stanley took a special trip to Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing in Ypres, Belgium to pay tribute to the fallen soldier.

She said: “ It was very emotional to find my soldier’s name there amongst them all but I felt proud to place our sunflowers down. I even found out where Joseph lived and visited his house. I am so pleased to have been able to leave a bit of Stockton’s gold among all the red poppies."

Sisters Kathryn Shepherd and Jane Curnow and their families will be travelling from Berkshire and Cornwall to remember their great uncles at the final tribute at Stockton's Parish Gardens on Monday, August 4. John (Jack) and William Stewart from Stockton, both fought and lost their lives in World War One in 1918. The brothers’ stories have been passed down through the family and they will also be remembered.

Lights will be switched off at the Parish Gardens at 10pm on Monday, August 4 and the town's war memorial will be lit up golden. At 11pm a home-fire will be lit, burning for 1,245 minutes and the names of all the dead will be read out.

Families, individuals and community groups are invited to bring their cut sunflowers to the Parish Gardens in Stockton from Saturday, August 2 until Tuesday, August 5.

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