Members from all four Chippenham WIs gathered to finally unveil their giant poppy cascade at Emery Gate Shopping Centre recently. Conceived to mark VE75 in 2020, around fifty members continued to knit and crochet in the region of 1,500 poppies during lockdown despite the cancellation of that event.
They even managed some alternative events during that time which were included in the town's virtual commemoration curated by the Chippenham Museum.
It is the largest joint project undertaken so far by Hardenhuish, Lockside, Pewsham and Pewsham Belles WIs and included work from a range of abilities from complete beginners to experts. All kinds of wool were released from stashes - including some of the WI's own brand - and hastily redistributed to those who needed it just before the first lockdown commenced. Many found the mindful activities embodied by crochet and knitting helped with their mental health during those stressful times.
Several sessions took place during October for the members to finally meet and attach their poppies to the camouflage netting acquired to make the final giant four foot by eight foot cascade. It was decided early on in the project that the display would consist of mainly red poppies with a few purple ones sprinkled throughout to denote the many animals that have become the victims of war. A plaque and wreath were also created to provide the finishing touches to the display alongside the scattering of individual poppies.
It is proving to be a showstopper with people of all ages admiring the display. It was a special moment when staff from the shopping centre stepped forward to tell their stories of their time in the forces. They were proud to pose in front of the cascade with one of them saying, "I'm so happy to see myself and my mates remembered by Chippenham for the service we've given."
Display co-ordinator and Hardenhuish WI President Sue Maddick said: "I'm very proud that at last our poppy cascade is in situ in Emery Gate. Well done to everyone involved for a great team effort. Thanks also goes to Kandu Arts for kindly agreeing to host the cascade in their shop window for this year's Remembrance."
- Submitted by Michelle Chapman, Pewsham Belles WI