Knitted poppy display and Women in War sculpture to be revealed at Tonbridge Castle

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Last Updated: 24 Oct 2017 1:37pm

A magnificent carpet of knitted and crocheted poppies is to be revealed at Tonbridge Castle at 11am on Friday 27 October along with a unique sculpture representing ‘Women in War’.

The poppy carpet is the result of a project launched by Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council which prompted donations of thousands of knitted and crocheted poppies from residents and community groups across the borough and beyond. The carpet has been created to raise awareness of the work of the Royal British Legion and the unveiling is timed to mark the launch of their annual poppy appeal. Volunteers from the 2520 Tonbridge Squadron Royal Air Force Air Cadets, under the leadership of Pilot Officer Tom Bristow RAFVR(T), carefully attached the poppies to the backing material to form the carpet, which will be rolled out in front of Tonbridge Castle on the Castle Lawn for the launch event.

Residents and visitors are invited to come along to see the poppy carpet at 11am on Friday  27 October and to admire a unique sculpture, which will be on display on the Castle lawn at the same time.

The ‘Women in War’ sculpture has been created by pupils at Hillview School for Girls with the help of local artist Guy Portelli. Tonbridge resident Pam Mills coordinated the project, which aims to reflect on the part women have played in war, particularly as we approach the centenary of the end of WW1 next year. Many local women signed up to work with the Red Cross during WW1, others worked in the fields or took over jobs that were traditionally done by men.  The sculpture is dedicated to Margaret Waite, from Postern Farm, who joined the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry and left to go France and Belgium to serve her country in 1914. She was awarded the Order of Leopold ll for bravery in the field, giving first aid to those on the front line trenches.

The Mayor of Tonbridge and Malling, Cllr Roger Dalton, will welcome visitors to the launch event. Many of those who have contributed to the success of both projects will be there on the day including individuals and groups who have knitted or crocheted the poppies for the carpet, members of the Royal British Legion, the 2520 Tonbridge Squadron Royal Air Force Air Cadets, pupils and staff from Hillview School for Girls, Guy Portelli, Pam Mills, members of Margaret Waite’s family, borough councillors and officers and representatives from community groups and organisations that donated funds to support the sculpture project including Kent County Council, the Women’s Institute and The Old Fire Station.

Cllr Maria Heslop, Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Services, said: "This really is the perfect way to help raise awareness of the Royal British Legion’s annual poppy appeal and the tremendous work they do through their fundraising – I can’t wait to see the knitted poppy carpet and the Women in War sculpture and I hope that people will come along for the big reveal on Friday 27 October.”

After the launch event, the knitted poppy carpet will be displayed in the Tonbridge Gateway until Sunday 5 November and then in the reception area at the Borough Council’s Kings Hill offices from Monday 6 November.  On Remembrance Day (Sunday 12 November) the carpet will be displayed at the RBLI Gardens in Aylesford during their Remembrance Day service.

The Women in War sculpture will remain on display within the grounds (near the Cannon Lawn) of Tonbridge Castle until after Remembrance Day.

The deadline for delivering knitted/crocheted poppies for the poppy display has now passed.