Poppy Waterfall grows garlands to remember the fallen

A dramatic Remembrance Day poppy display created from thousands of plastic bottles thanks to the dedication of village of volunteers has grown in size this year with help from Lanes Group plc.

The Poppy Waterfall, first displayed in Stoneclough, Radcliffe, Greater Manchester, in 2020, was the idea of former soldier David De Souza, supported by his wife, Lisa, a works coordinator at Lanes.

A team of local volunteers now prepares the moving and vivid display on the Ringley Old Bridge across the River Irwell each year, with new elements added to make it even more dramatic and poignant.

Impact of conflict

The Poppy Waterfall flows down both sides of the bridge’s central pier. A Remembrance Arch of purple poppies stretches over the pedestrian bridge to remember animals that have died in wars.

This year, two Aftermath Garlands have been added, positioned either side of the Poppy Waterfall, to represent the continued impact of conflict on individuals and communities.

David De Souza served in the British Army. He then went to Iraq as a private security contractor and was severely injured in a road traffic collision in 2007.

He had only met Lisa six weeks before he left. They were married 10 months after he returned to the UK, suffering physical and psychological injuries that prevented him from working.

As David’s recovery progressed, he began looking for ways to use art to raise funds for the Royal British Legion.

Community support

In 2014 he visited the Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red display of 888,246 poppies at the Tower Of London. It inspired him to create 8-ft poppies displayed in St Saviours of Ringley church grounds.

This work progressed to the creation of the Poppy Waterfall, which has now become a highly valued community project that has already raised £16,000.

Lisa, who works in the Sewer Rehabilitation and Lining Division at the Lanes Manchester depot in Eccles, said: “We have a Poppy Waterfall group in the village and our work is supported widely within the community, including by local businesses like Lanes.

“The poppies are made from the bottoms of plastic bottles of various sizes that we collect throughout the year. People in the Stoneclough community then show their support by painting, drilling and cable tying them so they’re ready to be attached to a cargo net on the day of installation to create the display.

“There are also five 8-ft silhouettes soldiers and a dog created by a member of the group from sheets of wood. These are placed on the bridge and illuminated at night.”

Poppies stored safely

She added: “On Remembrance Sunday we hold a candlelit service on the bridge. There is a two-minute silence and the Last Post is sounded by a veteran bugler. We then read out the names of the 70 people from Stoneclough who gave their lives in the First and Second World Wars.

“Last year, more than 500 people attended the ceremony. It’s become bigger each year. It’s a way for the sacrifice of veterans to be recognised and for younger generations to be educated about the impact of conflict on their communities.”

All the elements of the display, which now have more than 18,000 plastic poppies, are stored safely in a container at the Lanes Manchester depot, ready to be used each year.

Lanes and N.J Cook Removals, which is based close to the Lanes Manchester depot, supply vans to assist the Poppy Waterfall Group in transporting equipment and materials.

The Poppy Waterfall will remain in place until Saturday 18th November.

Find out more

For more information about Stoneclough’s Poppy Waterfall, or to make a donation, visit the community initiative’s Facebook page

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