Sculpture unveiled in Leamington to mark Armistice Day

To mark the centenary of the outbreak of World War One, a commemorative sculpture 'Barbed Poppies', was unveiled and dedicated in Jephson Gardens, Leamington, on Tuesday. Pictured with artist Tim Tolkien (front right) are (from l-r) Vince Watson of the Leamington branch of the Royal British Legion, Leamington Mayor Cllr John Kinght and Warwick district councillors Dave Shilton and Alan Wilkinson.
To mark the centenary of the outbreak of World War One, a commemorative sculpture 'Barbed Poppies', was unveiled and dedicated in Jephson Gardens, Leamington, on Tuesday. Pictured with artist Tim Tolkien (front right) are (from l-r) Vince Watson of the Leamington branch of the Royal British Legion, Leamington Mayor Cllr John Kinght and Warwick district councillors Dave Shilton and Alan Wilkinson.

Armistice Day in Leamington was marked by the unveiling of a new sculpture in Jephson Gardens on Tuesday.

It was unveiled at 11am by Warwick district councillors Alan Wilkinson and Dave Shilton after Leamington mayor Cllr John Knight had read parts of the Ode of Remembrance and the Last Post was played by a trumpeter.

Vince Watson, chairman of the Leamington branch of the Royal British Legion, said: “The reason we did not want a date on the sculpture was so it could represent soldiers from all conflicts even though it is based on the First World War.

“It reminds me of the comrades I lost in the army when I served during the Troubles in Northern Ireland in the 1970s and 1980s with the Yorkshire Regiment.”

The metal sculpture, next to the top lawn in the park, is designed to sway lightly in the breeze as real poppies do and will rust and change over time.

It features oversized coils of ‘barbed wire’ turning into three poppies in various stages of the flower’s growth and will sit on a bed of flowers in front of a plaque which reads ‘ The Poppies. Lest we forget’.

Mr Tolkien, the great nephew of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit author JRR Tolkien, said the project - which has been supported by Warwick District Council, took about two months to complete and a few days of last week to install.

He said: “Out of these cruel, nasty, pieces of metal you have this symbol of hope that grows out of it.

“The poppy is such a fragile thing and it is around for just a moment. It didn’t seem to work to just have the one, so we have three at different stages reminding us that the seeds of the dead head are seeds for the future and a memory of the past .

“It’s a transitional moment and poppies are a very transitional thing.”

Mr Tolkien’s grandfather was as a stretcher bearer who survived the First World War along with his, now famous, late great uncle .

Mr Tolkien said: “To get a copy this week of a postcard my grandfather sent 100 years ago was really moving.

“Both he and his brother were lucky to make it through the war.

“We have a ‘survivor story’ rather than a tragic story but each family has a story to tell and that’s how the Great War is so important to people.”