While we are a small village we do as a community want the world to know 'We will remember them' so obviously my current plans are very big to emphasise their massive sacrifice Simply put 'nothing small will do'.
The approach will firstly be an avenue of poppies 7 miles long (14 if you include the other side of the road) which will be the longest poppy avenue in the world with an estimated 2 million poppies. This will be formed later this year by villagers and hopefully some soldiers from the camp in Okehampton We aim to run the avenue into Okehampton where we will also get the local shops to have poppies in window displays and hanging baskets to make people question their relevance outside the usual 11/11 ceremonies as obviously this is about the start of the war... not the end, where that date celebrates the fact that people lives become more safe and better, this ceremony helps people understand how lives were changed for the worse with all the very negative parts of humanity such as war, death and fear.. Part of the road out of Northlew is also in a direct line to Flanders which makes the project all the more symbolic. The idea behind it is while a church service is important for people to remember these boys, the day is quickly forgotten. Having an avenue of poppies that are a vibrant red and be seen every time you go out/come in to the village will mean the person is actually forced to remember the reason why they are there irrespective, of if they want to or not.
The second phase of the project is to have an outdoor service on the evening of 28th July 2014 at 9pm. This will be an hour of very thought provoking trench poetry, however it will be set on the village square at twilight where all the houses that surround it will be illuminated with projected moving videos of the war from bombs.. to trenches and of course the after effects such as 'Shell Shock' and living with disability. While the evening will be somber one it will be thought provoking and give an impression to people that they are in the centre of a great battle although silent as shadow of something that has been, the only sound being the voices of people reading out the thoughts through poetry of the people of the day. The evening will end in images of fields of poppies swaying in the wind and the words 'We will remember them' and a short video or speech from a current serving soldier This will not be a celebration, just a very graphic remembrance in a very unique way.
We also aim to plant a Canadian Oak which while not English goes a blood red colour around the time of the armistice Long after we are all dead and gone, this will carry on being a focus point for the community to honour the young boys who went off to war and never came back.
Finally, we aim to open a small community museum where children /adults and people with an interest can come and look at uniforms, weapons, food in an interactive way we also aim to have a basic holographic mannequin that will narrate real experiences of the war so people can feel they are listening to a real person tell the story of what it was really like and the daily horror they faced.
If the museum is successful, we will aim to incorporate that into the new village shop; so for many years to come there will be a base in Devon where people can come and understand what war was really like for all those people (often children) and ensure while WW1 is now out of living history, it remains an important key historical event as we can possibly make it.
Obviously we are a small village out in the sticks who are generally unheard of nationwide, but I do guarantee one thing, by the 28th July next year the whole nation will hear about the loss of this village and the brave sacrifice of our young men who hopefully can honour them along with us.