Southwater man takes part in poppy plant

Poppy field in Tower of London moat
Poppy field in Tower of London moat

A man from Southwater has taken part in a national poppy plant in London to mark the 100th anniversary of World War One.

Darren Shopland, 38, was given the chance to go down to the Tower of London and get involved in a poppy plant to commemorate 100 years since the start of the First World War.

He was part of a team of volunteers who planted hundreds of hand-made poppies in the dry moat of the tower as part of a project named the ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’.

The aim is to plant more 800,000 hand-made crimson flowers in the moat of the tower in remembrance of all the people who lost their lives fighting for the Commonwealth in the global conflict at the start of the 20th century.

Darren said: “There were only about six or seven of us that went down yesterday (Thursday 24) but there were about 100 the day before.

“We got the opportunity through the company I work for Fujitsu. Myself and a few colleges put our names forward and we got the chance to go up there for the day.”

Darren and the team spent most of the day in the sweltering heat planting the flowers.

He said: “It was a very hard experience as we were in 30 degree heat in the tower moat all afternoon.

“It was very hot and people were running for shade at times. But it was definitely well worth it in the end.

“We met a lot of interesting people throughout the day. There was quite a big contingent from the armed forces doing it.

“Even the beefeaters came down and spoke with us.”

On August 5 it is hoped that the entire moat will become a sea of red and it will be kept that way until November 11 when the last poppy is scheduled to be placed to mark the centenary.

Although Darren only placed a proportion of the poppies and with the final project yet to be completed he said he was still taken aback by what he had achieved during the day.

“When you looked at what you had done it was very moving,”he said.

“I was really taken aback with what everyone had done. It was quite a humbling experience. I would gladly go back and do it again.”

The poppies will soon be available to buy at £25 each with the aim of making £15m to be split between six different armed forces charities.