King’s Lynn March begins for clay soldiers

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After being carefully crafted out of clay, the SPEADA Soldiers will embark upon their first mission this week when their March of King’s Lynn

begins at All Saints’ Church.

The 169 clay Tommy soldiers made by youngsters at SPEADA and by volunteers including West Norfolk mayor and mayoress and SPEADA patrons, Barry and Christine Ayres, will finally be displayed within the town.

Thursday will see the clay creations hunkered down in All Saints’ Church, in Hillington Square, as part of a wider exhibition, which will be the subject of an illustrated talk by Rev Damon Rogers, of St Andrew’s Church in Lowestoft, on The Lost Generation from 7.30pm.

This exhibition aims to tell the story of the lives and fates of some of the 169 men who died in the First World War, and who are commemorated on the stain glass war memorial that can be found in the church.

The stories are told through a series of displays featuring those who took part in the Somme Offensive, Gallipoli, Gaza and the Middle East, men who worked at Cooper Roller Bearings, the breweries and the railways. There is also focus on those who fought at sea and in the air, those decorated for bravery, the “vanished battalion” of the Norfolk Regiment, the band of brothers and Joe Dines, “The Smiling Footballer”.

Rev Adrian Ling, of All Saints’ Church, said: “Rev Damon Rogers has worked so hard researching the history of the young men from our parish who gave their lives for their country.”

The exhibition will be complemented by the display of 169 clay Tommy soldiers, which have been created by SPEADA, a project aimed at supporting youngsters and those with disabilities a chance to socialise and learn life skills. SPEADA has been working with Culture Quay, a new arts and culture events initiative, and a team of volunteers.

Mike Chivers, from Culture Quay, said: “The historical accuracy of Rev Damon Rogers’ Lost Generation exhibition partnered alongside the visual representation of SPEADA’s clay Tommy soldiers create a poignant tribute to gallant fallen of South Lynn who served in the Great War.”

The exhibition will run until September, but work is still ongoing on the clay soldiers project and has a new goal in mind. A platoon of SPEADA Soldiers has made it past the Jerries and is now stationed in Lynn Museum for its WW1 exhibition which opens on Saturday.

These workshops will continue to be held with the aim to create 569 clay Tommy soldiers to represent the fallen on Lynn’s war memorial.

The First World War centenary youth art project is funded by Norfolk Community Foundation in a joint initiative between SPEADA and Culture Quay. The project has had support from Carolyn Coe Pottery, in Grimston.

If you are interested in volunteering to help make clay soldiers for the project, contact SPEADA through its
Facebook page.