Blade Education
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Southend Schools Festival of Remembrance (SSFR)

The Southend Schools Festival of Remembrance is a project in partnership with the Leigh Branch of the Royal British Legion and Blade Education that is working to reconnect school children in Southend-on-Sea with the importance of remembrance. By engaging children with stories of those who lived in Southend in the past with a particular emphasis on the Great War and how it changed the lives of those that lived through that period. Throughout the 2017/ 2018 school year we will be holding education sessions, exhibitions and performances with our ambassador schools to bring remembrance to life for the pupils.

SSFR has worked with 25 schools in the borough and the Project Team led by SSFR Artist, Mary Lister have  made ceramic poppies with around 5000 children aged between 5 and 15 that were made into an amazing exhibition on Southend Cliffs during Remembrance week.

All of the children’s work was unique and special and the poppies were dried and painted before being waterproofed by our wonderful SSFR volunteers to be ready for the SSFR Poppy Installation.


The children's poppies were turned into an installation at the Rose Garden on the cliffs below the Southend Cenotaph. This first part of the installation pictured here is the 32 meter Poppy Water Fall that used 2500 red, purple and white poppies as the main aspect of the exhibition facing the seafront on Western Esplanade.

Thanks to the help of 61 local volunteers the exhibition was open between Thursday 9th November and Sunday 12th November 2017.

With visits from many of the schools taking part in the project, the second part of the Poppy Waterfall (left) allowed children to get up close and personal with their work and to see how the 1000 different poppies went to make the effect of the poppy waterfall.

Thursday and Friday were packed with children and teaching staff from all over the Southend-on-Sea area as well as parents and passers-by who simply stopped for a look when they saw the poppies from the road.

The centre piece of the SSFR Poppy Installation was Mary Lister's Poppy Fountain, that made use of the existing urn that has been at the Rose Garden since the 1950s. With bright red poppies of all sizes spilling over to the ground where they were surrounded by the 1400 poppies that were made by the Westborough School, the Poppy Fountain was both poignant and beautiful when surrounded by the message 'We will remember them'.

With many thanks to all of those who made this such a brilliant event, the sun eventually went down and the poppies had to be put away. For those that are wondering - and many have asked - the poppies are being stored for the present so that they can dry out and we can assess how many survived the November weather.

They are not being sold or thrown away. The poppies will stay within our community and will hopefully go towards making Remembrance an important part of everyone's lives in the future.

SSFR has been funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Leigh Town Council, Southend Borough Council and Southend 125. Working with us on the project are the South Essex Branch of the Essex Society for Family History, Southend Borough Council Parks Department and Burial Services Department, the Leigh Society and Figure of 8 Education.

If you would like further information on the Southend Schools Festival of Remembrance then please see our dedicated website at


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