In Flanders fields…Thousands of poppies bloom as Porthcawl commemorates WWI

THOUSANDS of Flanders poppies have bloomed in Porthcawl as the town prepares to mark the centenary of the start of World War I.

Inspired by the words of Harry Patch – the man known as the last fighting Tommy – the stunning displays have been placed on two roundabouts to greet visitors to the seaside town.

Flanders poppies are an internationally recognised symbol of remembrance because they bloomed on the battlefields of Belgium and France during the 1914-18 war.

“Harry Patch said before he died in 2009 aged 111 that ‘we were the poor bloody infantry who didn’t know if we’d be dead or alive the next day, next hour or next minute’, and in this centenary year Porthcawl residents have contributed to honour the sacrifice made by so many Tommies,” said Gary Victor, chairman of older people’s voluntary organisation Porthcawl Shout Forum, which is behind the initiative.

The words of Mr Patch – a private in the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry who fought in the trenches of the Western Front – struck a chord with Mr Victor, who has an interest in WWI, and came back to him when he was trying to get an initiative to have wild flowers sown along the main route into the town off the ground.

Having seen a wild flower display next to a bypass in Caerphilly, Mr Victor contacted the authority to find out how it was done and learned of a special commercial flower breeding company associated with the University of Sheffield.

Following talks with Bridgend County Borough Council – which obtained the special Flanders poppy seeds and sowing advice from the company – Porthcawl Shout raised the £600 required to fund the project.


Porthcawl residents have honoured the sacrifice of the soldiers who died fighting for their country in World War I by getting thousands of Flanders poppies planted on two town roundabouts. The poppies are now in full bloom in time for August 4, the 100th anniversary of the day Britain declared war on Germany. Pictured are members of Porthcawl Shout Forum who organised the planting
Picture by David Williams


The money was donated by the Porthcawl Chamber of Trade, Rotary and Lions clubs and Rosemary and David Deere.

“We had all this advice from these people in Sheffield about how to go about it. It wasn’t just a case of getting a packet of seeds and throwing them about the place,” said Gary.

“There are very specific things you have to do to be able to get the poppies to come out on cue.”

The two stunning displays were planted on the town’s so-called gateway roundabouts in Newton and on the Portway, next to the town centre.


Gary Victor is Chairman of Porthcawl Shout Forum
Picture by David Williams


Gary said: “One of the Great War hallmarks was the pride people had in their country and how important it was for them to make a personal contribution and it has been most pleasing to experience those same values today in Porthcawl, with residents prepared to support this attempt to recall and honour all those lives lost ‘in some corner of a foreign field’ long ago.”

He also thanked Gareth Evans, Bridgend council’s parks and playing fields manager, Robert Jones, countryside management officer and the authority’s head of tourism Ieuan Sherwood.

A series of events are set to take place in Porthcawl on Saturday, August 2, and Sunday, August 3, to mark 100 years since the start of hostilities in WWI.

Events include a suffragette protest on John Street and shops dressing their windows and staff in the style of 1914. A WWI recruitment officer will also be stationed outside Porthcawl Museum, which is currently running a WWI exhibition, and which features a real-life trench experience.



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