Final few days to enjoy the spectacular floral tribute to Colchester’s fallen

Thousands have enjoyed the colourful and poignant tribute since June.

Date issued: 14 November 2018

Visitors have less than a week to view the hugely popular and widely celebrated World War One floral sculpture standing proudly in front of Colchester Castle – and soon the public will be able to own part of the display!

With winter fast-approaching, the opportunity to view the living memorial featuring a three-dimensional tank and willow figures is coming to an end. Work to dismantle the display, which has been enthralling visitors since late June, is set to begin next week (week commencing 19 November).

In the five months since it was unveiled, thousands of sightseers have enjoyed the colourful and poignant tribute, which symbolises the town’s important role during the First World War. The stunning attraction, planted with over 9,000 carpet bedding plants, has won widespread praise and even received national media attention.

The spectacular floral tribute forms part of Colchester Borough Council’s commemorations to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War. The design, co-conceived and built in partnership with idVerde, was inspired by a real Mark IV tank given to the town as a war trophy and displayed on the west side of the Castle until the 1930s.

Now the public is being invited to own their own piece of this historic display by submitting a sealed bid for one or more of the willow figures – with all proceeds being donated to the Royal British Legion.

The figures up for grabs, which were created by Suffolk-based willow sculptor Jo Hammond, are as follows:

  • Figure 1 – a soldier stood, head bowed, with two hands on a rifle
  • Figure 2 – a soldier stood, head bowed, with one hand on a rifle
  • Figure 3 – a soldier stood holding a bicycle (bicycle also included)
  • Figure 4 – a soldier kneeling with a rifle
  • Figure 5 – a nurse stood with her head bowed

All bids should be emailed to hayley.mcgrath@colchester.gov.uk, by close of business on Friday 14 December, and must include the willow figure’s number in the subject line – for example ‘Figure 1 sealed bid’ – as well as a suitable contact telephone number. Emails will be opened on Monday 17 December, when the winners will be contacted to arrange payment and collection.

Cllr Tina Bourne, Portfolio Holder for Housing and Communities, said: “I would encourage anyone who hasn’t already seen this stunning and evocative centenary tribute to visit Castle Park in the next few days. I’m sure you will be as deeply moved as I was by the display, which manages to portray the sacrifice of the fallen so vividly.

“Many thanks to everyone involved in creating such a remarkable homage to all those who served and died for our freedom a century ago.”

The Mayor of Colchester, Cllr Peter Chillingworth, added: “I am enormously proud of the many ways Colchester has chosen to commemorate the centenary of the Armistice, and this hauntingly beautiful and iconic display is no exception.

“The First World War is an incredibly significant and defining moment in our history. As a Garrison town, Colchester’s role in the Great War was perhaps felt more acutely than many other places, so it was entirely fitting that we told the story of the heroism and sacrifice made during that conflict in such a memorable and poignant way.”

Further information about submitting a bid can be found here: http://www.colchester.gov.uk/bidforhistory.

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