Despite Covid-19 restrictions on Army Cadet Force face-to-face training, Ballygowan and Carryduff ACF detachment were determined wanted to mark the Remembrance period in a fitting way, something that despite not being able to be physically present, let them still be there in spirit and most importantly remember all those lost in conflicts past and present. A Cascade of Poppies seemed like a very appropriate and poignant way to mark this year’s period of remembrance. As inspired by the Tower of London Poppies of 2018, a group project that enabled all detachment cadets take part in at home, as face-to-face ACF activities are still suspended within Northern Ireland.
Over the month of October Ballygowan and Carryduff Army Cadets got busy behind the scenes collecting plastic bottles and then turning them into Poppies. Those Cadets not able to make the poppies themselves still took part and collected lots of bottles to be turned into poppies, with a special mention going to Cadets Sgt Gemma Conn, L/Sgt Cameron Coogan, L/Cpl Zach Milligan, Cdt Victor Ferris, Cdt Katie Parker and Cdt Harry Anderson for their hard work.
Joining the Poppies is the Tommy Silhouette which takes pride of place in the centre of the roundabout in Ballygowan village, which is surrounded by his own field of large Poppies each representing one of the 20 men who were lost during the First World War from the Village and surrounding area. Tommy was purchased by the detachment through fund raising to mark the WW1 Centenary in 2018 and was so popular on display that he has become an annual fixture in the village.
As well as their own Poppies, the detachment reached out to local primary schools at both Alexander Dickson Primary School and Carrickmannon Primary School with a Poppy template for the schoolchildren to create and design their own poppies. Both schools were very happy to take part with all the children producing their own amazing coloured in Poppies which have also placed at the War Memorial alongside the Detachments.
The idea of the Poppy Installation came about due to the circumstances we are currently facing. 2020 is the first year in living memory that the Cadets, along with many others are not be able attend Remembrance Services at their local towns and Cenotaphs due to the Covid-19 restrictions.
The Detachment Commander SMI Townley said “It has been amazing to see after we launched our project just how far the idea has been shared across not just Northern Ireland but across the UK and beyond with other Cadet groups, youth groups, schools and families embracing it and making their own Poppies”.
The Poppies went on display on Tuesday 3rd November and will remain in place for the next two weeks until Wednesday 18th November 2020.