A trio of celebrities has joined residents of Royal Wootton Bassett in calling for public support to help commemorate the 10-year anniversary of the town’s royal patronage with a replacement ‘Forever Poppy’ sculpture.
Wootton Bassett received the royal title in October 2011 – the first to be bestowed with the title since 1909 – as recognition of the role it played during the repatriation of UK military personnel. A marble ‘Forever Poppy’ erected to commemorate fallen military personnel collapsed in 2017, resulting in residents taking it upon themselves to form a committee and help generate the funds required to install a long-lasting bronze replacement.
Their cause has attracted celebrity interest including charismatic TV presenter Nick Knowles, best known for DIY SOS; presenter and co-founder of Soccer Aid Jonathan Wilkes; and former professional darts player Bob Anderson.
Knowles said: “The replacement Forever Poppy will be the only monument in the town honouring the 355 servicemen and women who sadly lost their lives in the Iraq and Afghanistan war who were repatriated through the town. If everyone who listens to this message donates £1, we would reach our target in no time at all.”
The Forever Poppy committee is determined to have the sculpture replaced so the town has a permanent reminder, not only of the military personnel that lost their lives and were repatriated through the town, but also how residents paid their respect in honouring those who have made the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of their country.
Led by Councillor Tom Patterson, the committee behind the Forever Poppy appeal has already secured the services of renowned sculptor Stephen Pettifer to create the replacement statue. Patterson said: “We are determined to raise the funding to have the replacement Poppy in place to commemorate the town’s 10-year anniversary of its Royal patronage.
“We have seen an incredible groundswell of support to our cause, ranging from residents of Royal Wootton Bassett to celebrity backing. Unfortunately, our grassroots campaign of getting support via donation tins in local businesses has been dramatically affected by the pandemic. We are asking people across the country to please help us turn our goal into a reality.”
The Committee has set up GoFundMe page to drive donations for what would be a permanent and iconic symbol for those who have given the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of the country. To donate to the appeal, visithttps://www.gofundme.com/f/royal-wootton-bassett-poppy.