Sunday 11th November 2018 marked the 100-year anniversary of the end of World War One. A war which was thought to be the war that would end all wars due to the staggering loss of an estimated 37.5 million direct casualties and another 7 million who were maimed for life, it was unlike any other war before it.
In 2014, in order to commemorate the centenary anniversary of the start of The Great War, The Tower of London’s moat famously turned into Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, an art installation where 888,246 ceramic poppies filled the moat, each poppy representing a British and Commonwealth military fatality during the war. Two years later, 51 transparent seated military figures were placed in Penshurst Church (Kent) by the local community as a living reminder of the 51 men from the tiny village who lost their lives in the war and ended up sparking a resonance which was felt throughout the country.
Fast forward another two years, and what was originally a local project turned into a national campaign to remember the fallen in the places where their absences were most keenly felt – their local communities. As a result, the centenary anniversary of Armistice Day has been marked by silhouettes appearing up and down the country to represent those who are no longer physically with us but live on in our memories.
From 6-foot-tall aluminium silhouettes of Tommy soldiers to the original inspiration of Perspex silhouettes for pews to smaller name blocks, There But Not There has produced a number of ways in which to remember the fallen. Just as importantly, they also support those who remain as the funds generated from the sale of the Tommies will contribute directly to the six beneficiary charities of Remembered (the charity behind the There But Not There campaign).
RCH Care Group are proud to support this endeavour and purchased a two-and-a-half-foot tall steel Garden Tommy for each of our thirteen services (our ten care homes, our new Acquired Brain Injury Unit which opened on Wednesday 14th November, our children’s day nursery and our supported living facility); each Garden Tommy and its commemorative packaging crafted by veterans employed by There But Not There’s manufacturing partner, Royal British Legion Industries (RBLI).
The Garden Tommies were especially chosen as they will last for years to come once they’ve been planted into the ground. Maidstone Care Centre (Maidstone, Kent) attached a poppy to their Tommy before it was planted in front of the care home on Friday 9th November. On the same day, the children at Jelly Beans Day Nursery (Ashford, Kent) hand crafted their own individual poppies and hung them on their Tommy before holding a minute’s silence.
Nursery (Ashford) holding a minute’s silence after hanging hand-made poppies around their Garden Tommy.
Woodlands Care Centre (Cambridge, Cambridgeshire) planted their Tommy in a large barrel pot surrounded by beautiful flowers. To complete the display which now sits at the front of the care home, the residents also planted large metal poppies around the edge of the barrel pot, keeping the Tommy as the centrepiece.
Each of our services are already planning to either create memorial gardens or planning how to incorporate their Tommy as a centrepiece into their gardening activities for their residents once spring beckons. We won’t be surprised if the arrival of Spring sees at least one Garden Tommy with beautiful climbing flowers wound around its steel frame in a few months’ time.
Despite the hope that World War One would be the war to end all wars, it ended up merely being the precursor to World War Two where estimates of casualties range from 50 million to 80 million (both military and civilian combined). Since then, conflicts have occurred all over the world (although, thankfully, not on the scale of either World War), and their impact is still felt today. Not all wounds are visible: for some, they must live with the loss of a loved one and, for others, they live with the physical, mental and social impact war has had on their lives.
From breaking down the taboos which surrounded Post Traumatic Stress (historically known as shell shock) to helping those who suffer from a mental illness as a result of combat to aiding veterans reintegrate into society whilst maintaining their independence where possible, RCH Care Group are honoured that the profits from the Tommies will support the six charities chosen by Remembered.
Furthermore, to mark the last hundred years of conflict, RCH Care Group are compiling a centenary tribute book comprised of stories volunteered from residents, staff and family members of how war affected either themselves or their loved ones. Stay tuned for upcoming updates on both the centenary tribute and what our Garden Tommies get up to next.
An online copy of the centenary tribute book will be available soon. However, if you would like a printed copy or if you would like to subscribe to our mailing list, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or click here.