Friday, 4 November 2016


You'll all probably remember a few weeks ago I blogged about our 3Ps?  At the time I mentioned two of the Ps, the production and project, but couldn't announce the third P?  Well now I can tell you about the last P - poppies.

On Wednesday 2nd November the ladies from Hookery were invited to a civic reception at the Museum at the Mill, Newtownabbey for the unveiling of two special pieces.  We had been responsible for these:

The project for the Somme Commemorative Pieces came out of the Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council Arts and Cultural Committee of which two of us are members.  The group was very honoured and delighted to have been asked to participate in the Commemoration. 

So many of us in the Hookery group had, and still have, servicemen and women in our families and for that reason it was a great honour to create these commemorative pieces to those who gave their lives 100 yrs ago.                      

A few folks helped us along our way.  Mark Thompson, Black Sheep Printing and Sheldon Galleries, Belfast gave each piece such a professional glow.  Ursula, Samantha, Deirdre, Jackie, Wesley and Gordon also helped us along the way.

The Hookery ladies also deserve a huge thanks from me because when I originally mentioned the project to them they were immediately, and unquestionably, agreeable and also because of the amount of personal time they have dedicated to it.

It took a few long weeks from start to finish and here are photos of the works-in-progress.

As you know, craft for the group is very much a hobby, a relaxation activity and many of the ladies hold down full time jobs or have family commitments and so to dedicate so much time to this is very commendable.  The ladies have pooled their individual and collective skills during the past few weeks and some of us have even added new skills to our crafting CV!

We had additional help with poppy production from 3 ladies belonging to Women's Arts and Crafts, an affiliated member of Small Steps Community Development in Duncairn, North Belfast. 
Quite a bit of thought went into each piece, and although we are not historians, we tried our best to make the pieces relevant, to represent as many aspects of the Somme, the local area and the men as possible.  Each piece has similarities but also subtle differences.

·         The words we have used surrounding the poppies were their words, of their time, reflecting both the horror of war and also how the normality of life went on at the same time, illustrated by ‘the guns are going now’, ‘shake a man’s nerves’ …... and then mention of ‘nice weather’ and ‘plum duff’

·         We used quotations applicable to the particular area where the pieces are to be displayed.  For example, we used quotations from the diaries of Tom McKinney from Sentry Hill for the piece to be displayed at Mossley Mill and quotations from speeches made by Lt. Col. H A Packenham who commanded the 11th (Service) Battalion, the Royal Irish Rifles (South Antrim Volunteers) for the piece which will be displayed at Antrim Civic Centre

·         We used individual poppies in terms of colour, shape, size, and texture to represent the individuality of each soldier but put them together into a single poppy to represent the regiments and battalions in which they served

·         There are 141 individual poppies in each piece to represent the 141 days of the battle 

·         A linen–type background to the pieces represents the industry in the local area which would have lost so many young men to the war

·         And finally, the well-known quotation from the Kohima Epitaph, credited to the poet John Maxwell Edmonds, has been used to link the pieces - For Your Tomorrow / We Gave Our Today. 
The Hookery ladies hope everyone enjoys looking at these pieces and hope that they will be meaningful to, and appreciated by, residents of the Borough and future visitors to our Civic Centres.       


  1. My favourite part was seeing all the diverse individual pieces merge into one beautiful whole. So symbolic of us, and so symbolic of the sacrifice itself.

  2. Really beautiful job - so well done ladies. I hope to see it in person soon.

  3. Utterly beautiful, what brilliant work. Love the presentation and quotes. Well done everyone!