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6 July 2016, 19:20
As the Chilcot report was published today into the Iraq War, a 100ft high art installation, created from 1,000 hand-felted poppies, was unveiled at Queensgate Shopping Centre, Peterborough to remember those who fell 100 years ago, in the Battle of the Somme.
Created by Peterborough-based artist, Charron Pugsley-Hill, the 'Sky of Poppies' is the culmination of over 1,000 volunteers' work that included local school children, businesses and groups to create the city centre art work.
"The poppies represent the souls of those who died, reaching down from heaven to connect and touch the souls of those looking and watching below," says artist, Charron Pugsley-Hill.
"I am absolutely thrilled to finally see Sky of Poppies in place and for the public to share my vision and inspiration for honouring the soldiers from all sides."
The launch ceremony of the Sky of Poppies was opened by a World War I dressed rifleman followed by speeches from Queensgate's Centre Director, Mark Broadhead, the artist, Charron Pugsley-Hill, and the Mayor of Peterborough, Councillor David Sanders, who said:
"We are incredibly grateful to Queensgate Shopping Centre for commissioning Charron Pugsley-Hill to create the wonderful Sky of Poppies, it truly is breath-taking.
"To mark the Battle of the Somme is such an emotive and community spirited way is a wonderful show of recognition to those that gave their lives. Peterborough suffered its own personal loss with the death of 131 local soldiers. Many of the relatives of these soldier are still residents in Peterborough and I am sure they will be immensely proud to learn their ancestor's memory is being remembered in such a way. I hope the Sky of Poppies brings visitors from across the UK to Peterborough to experience a beautiful and inspirational memorial."
131 men from Peterborough died at The Somme and each name was read out at the opening ceremony and displayed as a mark of respect and remembrance.
Mark Broadhead, Centre Director at Queensgate Shopping Centre said:
"This has been an incredibly moving project that I have seen develop from the very start and now to the finish. It's wonderful to be able to respect our fallen heroes in such a remarkable way that will touch each person visiting the centre, old and young.
My congratulations go out to Charron for creating Sky of Poppies and a thank you to everyone that has supported and taken part in its creation, we're very humbled and immensely proud."
Sky of Poppies will remain in Queensgate Shopping Centre, Peterborough until the 18 November - to coincide with the end of the Battle of the Somme.