Support for Portsmouth field of poppies tribute idea

James Taylor at his desk in his office at 116 High Street, Old Portsmouth.

Those halcyon days when pen and paper just worked!

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People have voiced support for a remembrance tribute in Portsmouth similar to the Tower of London poppies display.

Scores of city residents voiced their opinions after an idea for a poppy field at Southsea Castle was posted on The News Facebook page.

Many posted messages on the page in favour of a tribute at the fortification.

Allan Cox said: ‘Great idea - let’s do it!’

Steph Bull commented: ‘It would look amazing.’

And John Cuthbert said: ‘I think the people of Portsmouth would love to see them around the Southsea Castle. They would look awesome around Portchester Castle too, all floodlit.’

But others who supported to idea feared that a poppy display here would be a target for vandals.

Kev Kelly asked: ‘In Portsmouth? Are you kidding? You’d need armed guards 24/7 or they wouldn’t last five minutes.’

Ellie Clark said: ‘Nice idea but they’d be either stolen or vandalised!’

And Charmaine Went added: ‘I went to the tower yesterday. It is breathtaking and the atmosphere is so respectful - not quiet but hushed. As to having them in Southsea Castle, in theory an amazing idea, but let’s be honest - a poppy box on a shop counter isn’t safe in Portsmouth. What would it cost to police it? It’s so very sad.’

Others said that the fear of vandalism should not stop a local tribute.

Sarah McQuillan asked: ‘Why are people so negative about Portsmouth? There are thieving idiots and vandals everywhere. Why let a small minority ruin it for the majority?’

Some proposed alternative sites. Mark Cooper said: ‘What about around the last standing World War One boat in the dry dock in the dockyard? Make it look like it’s floating in poppies.’

David Pellatt suggested: ‘Why not on green beside the old bombed Garrison Church. Good views from above and behind a fence.’

And Diana Goss said: ‘It would look beautiful, especially next to the D-Day museum.’

An army of volunteers has begun removing the field of Remembrance poppies at the Tower of London.

The first shift, wrapped up against heavy showers, began pulling up the 888,246 hand-made ceramic flowers that make up Blood Swept Lands And Seas Of Red.

The first poppy was removed by John Mould, 67, part of a team of gardeners from Hampton Court who joined the volunteers and who has worked there for 52 years, as hundreds of people watched from the moat edge.

Some 1,000 people a day will spend two weeks pulling and packing them, with some 8,000 volunteers expected to take part overall.

Stripped of their stems, they will then be taken to a Midlands factory to be cleaned and packaged in commemorative boxes before being sent to more than 600,000 people who paid £25 per bloom, each of which represents a British or Commonwealth First World War death.

Parts of the installation will remain on display after a public campaign. The Weeping Willow, a floral cascade spilling from a Tower window, and the Wave, which swirls out of the moat to form an arch over the entrance, will tour the UK until 2018, when they will be gifted to the Imperial War Museums in London and Manchester.

Wave will remain at the Tower until the end of November, according to Historic Royal Palaces, which commissioned the work by ceramicist Paul Cummins.

Millions came to London to see the display and thousands attended on Armistice Day to see the last poppy planted by Cadet Harry Hayes, 13.

Many volunteers came because of a family war connection, others were moved to come despite no links.

The poppy sale is raising money for the Confederation of Service Charities, Combat Stress, Coming Home, Help for Heroes, Royal British Legion and SSAFA (formerly the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association). Each is expected to receive more than £1.2 million.