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School appeal is global affair

Poppies which have already been collected at Barnacre Road Primary.  Pictured are pupils Barney Winder, Issac Billington, Joshua Birch, Imogen Strickland, Beth Maddock and Shannon Ball with headteacher Simon Wallis.
Poppies which have already been collected at Barnacre Road Primary. Pictured are pupils Barney Winder, Issac Billington, Joshua Birch, Imogen Strickland, Beth Maddock and Shannon Ball with headteacher Simon Wallis.
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A plan by a Lancashire headteacher to put on a wartime tribute has gone global.

When Simon Wallis sent out an appeal for people among his school community in Longridge to knit poppies, he didn’t expect a response from around the world.

Poppies... part of the backdrop fopr the Longridge school armistice project

Poppies... part of the backdrop fopr the Longridge school armistice project

The flowers are needed for a backdrop to a spectacular stage production commemorating the end of the First World War in November.

He has penned it for local schoolchildren, following the success of a similar show at Preston’s Guild Hall in 2013.

Barnacre Road Primary head Simon has been staggered to learn that more than 15,000 poppies have been knitted by people as far afield as Australia and Canada, with one person making 1,000 for the Longridge Schools Cluster Armistice Project.

He said: “The response has been amazing. Support is coming from all over the country, from Hexham to Cornwall and we’ve even had contributions from Australia and Canada. It’s incredible.

Poppies which have already been collected at Barnacre Road Primary

Poppies which have already been collected at Barnacre Road Primary

“ The whole thing has snowballed and people have been incredible offering all sorts of help. It really is a community project.”

Firms and individuals have pledged support in various ways, including a donation of more than 400 cardboard boxes to create a realistic trench scheme for the backdrop while another donor is making templates for the life-size silhouettes which will represent the war dead of Longridge. A former pupil and the grandfather of another pupil are also running a model making group to build props for the show.

Mr Wallis said people from all walks of life have been helping provide wartime artefacts for a display while many have been visiting the primary schools to tell their stories of the war, and those of relatives, to pupils.

Involving more than 700 children and adults, the show will take place in November at the Guild Hall.