Last year for the Armistice centenary, school children across Monmouthshire who are part of the world’s largest youth organisation, embarked on events to commemorate the centenary of the end of WW1.
Across the county, 811 youth members of the Scouting association from 6 year old beavers to 18 year old explorers and 206 uniformed adult leaders created by hand, a ceramic poppy, with each representing a Monmouthshire resident who had lost their life in conflict over the past 100 years. Each poppy was etched with the name of a fallen serviceman and the date they fell as a symbolic piece of art which demonstrates the human cost of war.
There was a district Scout Rememberence service held last November at Raglan Castle, where these poppies were a poignant focus and they have remained in circulation at significant venues throughout this past year, making their final journey to Tintern Abbey, in time for this year’s Rememberence service. What a stunning backdrop Tintern Abbey proved to be!! The sun came streaming through and lit up the ceramix poppy display beautifully – if only it could have shone on us too! (Still, at least it was dry thisn year)
For the younger members of the association the two World Wars are studied in history lessons, yet many have personal family connections with present day service personel, some of whom have lost their lives in conflicts since the Great War.
The Scouting association has a long standing connection to the British services, with their founder Robert Baden-Powell holding the rank of Major-General in the British army. Baden-Powell served in Indian and Africa between 1876 – 1910 and amongst other decorations for service, was invested as a Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB), which is the fourth most senior of the British Orders of Chivalry. At the age of fifty seven, Baden-Powel put himself at the disposal of the war office at the outbreak of WWI in 1914, but he was not given a command. There are thought to be rumours that this was due to Lord Kitchener saying at the time that “he could lay his hand on several competent divisional generals, but could not find anyone who could carry on the invaluable work of the Boy Scouts.”
As the conclusion of this year long project comes to an end, the ceramic poppies will be going on sale for £15 each to finally rest with families and individuals across the County, in the hope that the sacrifice and human cost of conflict and war is made a present and personal reality, which will remain in the hearts of generations to come. The public are invited to “pick their own” poppies directly from Tintern Abbey, where there is an honesty box in the Abbey Shop.