For a town with a wool trade heritage it seems the most natural thing in the world that residents have taken to the idea of a ‘poppy mile’ to commemorate the end of WWI on Armistice Day, 2018, with such enthusiasm.
The idea to line the route that the young men of Witney would have taken as they marched off to war, with a display of knitted, crocheted and otherwise handmade poppies, has captured the imagination of local groups and individuals.
A Witney embroidery group will be stitching poppies and our local Slimming World group are being encouraged to knit in their spare time instead of pick!
Many people are already making poppies and spreading the word through family and friends.
In fact it isn’t just our town that has been caught up by the idea. We have already had several offers of help to supply handmade poppies from neighbouring towns and villages including interest from Chipping Norton’s answer to Banksy, their anonymous Yarn Bomber and a group of knitters from Filkins, who were one of the first to offer to help.
The rapid message spread via social media has made us all wonder just how far the message will migrate and which handmade poppy will travel the furthest to be part of the display.
In an interesting twist, the gauntlet (or should that be mitten?) has been thrown down to Councillors, challenging them to learn to knit or crochet a poppy of their own. West Witney WI and the Forget- Me -Knot knitting group at Richmond Villages are on the case and keen to do the teaching. As a result coffee morning ‘Knit & Natter’ groups will be set up so councillors and anyone else who wants to learn can come along and share a cuppa and produce a poppy. As soon as we have set dates for these we will publicise them.
We want it to be a fittingly spectacular display. The ‘mile’ is actually around a quarter of a mile and will start at the Corn Exchange where the soldiers would have gathered and continue across the Market Square, up Church Green and through the churchyard at St Mary’s and on to The Leys which was the route to the Railway Station.
Chairman of the WWI working party, Cllr Chris Holliday said;
“We will be unveiling a new memorial on the Leys to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of the end of the Great War. November 11th 2018 will be a great opportunity for the people of Witney to remember the ordinary people, leading ordinary lives, who marched this route as they went to war, to serve King and Country, many of whom did not return. Their sacrifice gave us the freedoms we all enjoy today.
The Witney community have always been very supportive of our Remembrance services. Next year will be particularly special and the folk of Witney like a challenge. There are already groups within the town who are busy setting up Knit & Natter groups and we are expecting poppies in their thousands. It’s all about people…..”
We have crochet and knitting patterns online at this link http://www.witney-tc.gov.uk/…/up…/2017/09/Poppy-patterns.pdf but feel free to use your own if you have a favourite. You can call in to the Town Hall or Corn Exchange and pick up a paper pattern if you do not have access to the internet. Remember poppies can also be made from paper and other materials. We can use the non-waterproof ones inside a number of venues that will be part of the commemorations next year.
If anyone can help with donating some camouflage netting that would also be very welcome.