Northampton volunteers hand-craft 2,000 poppies for Armistice Day church display

A whole host of volunteers, including Celia's closest family and friends, helped to bring the display to fruition. Pictures: Kirsty Edmonds.
A whole host of volunteers, including Celia's closest family and friends, helped to bring the display to fruition. Pictures: Kirsty Edmonds.

To mark 100 years since the end of World War One volunteers in Northampton have given up hours of their time to create 2,000 poppies for a commemorative display.

Former headteacher of 14 years at Blisworth Community Primary School, Ceila Irwin, wasn't looking to put her feet up when she gave up teaching this year back in August.

Former headteacher Celia Irwin (pictured) is not easing into her retirement. She single handedly coordinated the project in Abington called 'In Memory'. 'Pictures: Kirsty Edmonds.

Former headteacher Celia Irwin (pictured) is not easing into her retirement. She single handedly coordinated the project in Abington called 'In Memory'. 'Pictures: Kirsty Edmonds.

Instead of easing herself into retirement she rallied the community of Abington together for a mammoth project, which saw volunteers aplenty plant 2,000 ceramic poppies outside St Peter & St Paul's Church in Park Avenue South to honour the lives of those lost in World War One.

World War One - a war that lasted four years - ended on November 11, 1918 after an Armstice had been signed by Germany to end the conflict that had taken the lives of so many. The Armistice was prepared by Britain and France.

Celia, who lives in Kingsthorpe, said: "As a headteacher, about to retire, I was looking for a project that would take all of the nice things from the job I was leaving, including working with children, encouraging creativity and passing on skills.

"But I wanted to get rid of things I was not so fond of such as dealing with piles of often unnecessary paperwork, and keeping up with the pressures of Ofsted.”

The lettering is made up of an additional 700 small ceramic poppies and 30 larger ones. Pictures: Kirsty Edmonds.

The lettering is made up of an additional 700 small ceramic poppies and 30 larger ones. Pictures: Kirsty Edmonds.

Volunteers from the parish as well as Ceila's family and friends constructed, fired and hand-painted all 2,000 poppies - which cascade from the church window to the grass and around the 'Lest We Forget' centrepiece.

Back in 2014 Ceila worked on a project with her former school to mark 100 years since the start of the first world war where each child made a poppy, which was planted at the front of the school.

Selfless Celia, who paid for the materials to create the poppies out of her own pocket, added: "Families used their poppy to remember people who had been killed in any war and dedications to those people were put on the school website.

"Many were read out in the annual remembrance assembly. Taking part this way made remembrance very personal to the children.

Of the 10 from each poppy sale, 2.50 will be donated to the church of St Peter & St Paul, 2.50 will be given to the Royal British Legion and 5 will be handed back to Ceila to reclaim some of the costs for materials. Pictures: Kirsty Edmonds.

Of the 10 from each poppy sale, 2.50 will be donated to the church of St Peter & St Paul, 2.50 will be given to the Royal British Legion and 5 will be handed back to Ceila to reclaim some of the costs for materials. Pictures: Kirsty Edmonds.

"Four years on and a school in Plymouth contacted me and asked for help to do a similar project and I started to think that something along those lines would be very relevant to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the signing of the Armistice and the end of the Great War."

Of the £10 from each poppy sale, £2.50 will be donated to the church of St Peter & St Paul, £2.50 will be given to the Royal British Legion and £5 will be handed back to Ceila to reclaim some of the costs for materials.

All poppies can be purchased through the church or on art-ified.co.uk.

Poppies will be available for collection from the church, or for delivery, the week commencing Monday, November 19. Pictures: Kirsty Edmonds.

Poppies will be available for collection from the church, or for delivery, the week commencing Monday, November 19. Pictures: Kirsty Edmonds.