Yarnbombers knit their respects and say: “We will remember them”

Yarnbombers have been stringing thousands of knitted poppies around Thirsk in the run up to Remembrance Day. This is  St Mary's Church. Picture by James Hardisty
Yarnbombers have been stringing thousands of knitted poppies around Thirsk in the run up to Remembrance Day. This is St Mary's Church. Picture by James Hardisty
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A river of poppies now flows around Thirsk as a Remembrance Day tribute to the fallen.

The Thirsk Yarnbombers don’t so anything by half so when someone suggested “knitting a few wreaths” for Remembrance Day, the response was typical.

“We looked at each other and said ‘we can do better than that’,” said Samantha Spence, who co-founded the group with Ann Akers.

The result is more than 40,000 knitted and crocheted poppies covering the Remembrance Day Parade route through Thirsk. There are wreaths, giant crosses, garlands and installations, including a “river” of the poignant red flowers that have been hand-stitched to army camouflage netting and draped over St Mary’s church tower. Bollards and trees have been decorated and there are poppy displays in the town’s empty shops.

Ann Akers came up with idea after being inspired by the ceramic poppies that made up the Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red art installation at the Tower of London to mark the centenary of the outbreak of World War I.

The yarnbombers put out an appeal for help in July and knitters from all over Yorkshire and from as far away as Australia, New Zealand and Canada got out their needles and four ply to help commemorate those who died for us.

Kath Forsdyke, of Easingwold, admiring the "river" of poppies on  St Mary's Church, Thirsk.

Kath Forsdyke, of Easingwold, admiring the "river" of poppies on St Mary's Church, Thirsk.

More than 450 miles of yarn has been used, which is the distance from Thirsk to the beaches at Normandy, where so many lost their lives during the D-Day landings. One Thirsk yarnbomber, Cath Hewson, even crocheted poppies on the beach at Normandy when she went over to visit her daughter in France.

On Saturday, the knitters were out in force decorating the town with help from locals, a cherry picker and two soldiers from nearby Allanbrooke Barracks.

“It’s wonderful and it looks just how I imagined it should,” says Ann, who originally launched the knitting group to yarnbomb her town for the Tour de Yorkshire cycle race earlier this year.

*The River of Poppies display in Thirsk is on until November 19.

St Mary's Church. Picture: James Hardisty

St Mary's Church. Picture: James Hardisty

Kath Forsdyke, admiring the poppies at St Mary's Church, Thirsk. Picture: James Hardisty

Kath Forsdyke, admiring the poppies at St Mary's Church, Thirsk. Picture: James Hardisty