Disappointment as Gosport poppy field fails to bloom for World War One centenary

The then Mayor of Gosport Cllr. John Beavis scattering poppy seeds in the Alver Valley last November.''Picture: Sarah Standing (133093-6875)
The then Mayor of Gosport Cllr. John Beavis scattering poppy seeds in the Alver Valley last November.''Picture: Sarah Standing (133093-6875)
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IT was meant to be a flagship part of the commemorations of the beginning of the First World War.

But a plan to turn the Alver Valley in Gosport into a sea of red poppies had to be axed as the flowers failed to grow.

Now a former councillor has said he’s disappointed plans to hold a commemorative ceremony on the field never went ahead.

On Monday, hundreds of people gathered in Gosport to mark 100 years since Britain entered the First World War.

Many expected the service to take place in Alver Valley where seeds were sown last November.

But the poppies didn’t grow and the service was held at Gosport War Memorial Hospital instead.

Derek Kimber, who helped set up the Alver Valley poppy field when he was a councillor for Gosport Borough Council, said: ‘It’s a little bit disappointing that the plans never went ahead and we couldn’t get more poppies to grow.

‘I know people who put a lot of time in last year on what was a horrible, rainy day to sow the seeds.

‘I’m at a loss as to why the council didn’t decide to continue the idea.’

As previously reported in The News members of the public were invited to Alver Valley on November 11 last year to sow poppy seeds.

It was hoped that once the centenary came around, the poppies would be in full bloom and the ceremony would be held there.

A plane from Daedalus in Lee-on-the-Solent was due to drop degradable poppies on the site.

Paul Stroud, 54, from Bursledon, helped plant the seeds with his children last year.

He turned up on Monday with his wife and two children for a ceremony that never happened.

He said: ‘We were disappointed and disgusted by the council’s apparent decision to quietly forget the poppy field planted with great fanfare in the Alver Valley.

‘There were promises of a big ceremony this year but nothing’s happened. There is no sign of the flowers, just long grass and weeds.’

But a spokeswoman from the council said that when they checked the site, the poppies hadn’t grown so there was no reason to hold the event there.

They added that they didn’t know why the poppies didn’t grow.

Councillor Roger Allen, armed forces champion at the council, said: ‘We were all disappointed.

‘It seemed inappropriate to hold the ceremony away from the memorial and hold it in the field with no poppies.

‘I have been told that poppies can lie dormant for years so they could bloom in a couple of years or so.’