Tornado flypast as north Norfolk unveils poppy sculpture to mark First World War centenary

Unveiling of a poppy sculpture by General Sir William Cubitt (left) at North Norfolk District Counci

Unveiling of a poppy sculpture by General Sir William Cubitt (left) at North Norfolk District Council HQ in Cromer by artist and master blacksmith Nigel Barnett (right).Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Poppies in Steel, a striking seven-foot tall sculpture, has been officially unveiled to mark the launch of north Norfolk's commemorations of the First World War centenary years and the start of Armed Forces Week.

Miltary figures and other VIPs gathered in the garden area at the front of North Norfolk District Council's Cromer headquarters to see the spray of 12 poppies revealed.

It was made and donated by artist and master blacksmith Nigel Barnett, 51, who lives in the district, on Fakenham Road, Great Ryburgh, and has a forge at Fransham, near Dereham.

Mr Barnett's grandfather was honoured for conspicuous gallantry at Ypres in the Great War and went on, aged 42, to serve with distinction in the Second World War.

The solemn dignity of the ceremony was in sharp contrast to the ear-splitting roar shortly afterwards as a single Tornado, from RAF Marham, flew low over the scene in tribute.

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Major General Sir William Cubitt, Norfolk president of the Royal British Legion, who performed the unveiling, said afterwards he thought the sculpture was 'absolutely beautiful'.

He added: 'It's fantastic to have poppies. Anybody looking at it from a distance would know exactly what it was commemorating.'

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Sir William also lives in the district, in Honing, near North Walsham.

Representatives from the armed forces attended and the ceremony included a minute's silence and a reading of the First World war poem In Flanders Fields, made more poignant by the poppies in full bloom scattered in the wild flower areas surrounding the sculpture.

Afterwards, everyone sang Happy Birthday to Second World War veteran Bill Lee, who was celebrating his 92nd birthday.

Mr Lee, of Brookes Drive, North Walsham, said he had wanted to mark his birthday by attending the ceremony.

'I think the sculpture's great,' he said. 'We have got to remember the people who died. The more we do this sort of thing, the more people might think harder about taking up arms.'

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