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Mum’s labour of love a touching tribute to all our fallen heroes




School teaching assistant Courtney Bell, artist Dawn Allen, Gail Bell and sponsor Coun Elizabeth Sneath, with the felted poppies display at Ayscoughfee Hall in Spalding. (SG211017-194TW).
School teaching assistant Courtney Bell, artist Dawn Allen, Gail Bell and sponsor Coun Elizabeth Sneath, with the felted poppies display at Ayscoughfee Hall in Spalding. (SG211017-194TW).

Artist Dawn Allen, with the help of children at Spalding Primary School, has created a wonderful tribute to those who have served their country.

In time for Remembrance Sunday on November 12, a display of 500 handmade poppies - all created from a technique called wet felting - has been put up in Ayscoughfee Hall Museum in Spalding.

I might have had a little tear when I saw it go up
Artist Dawn Allen

Dawn, who moved to Spalding at the end of last year from Norfolk, said it had taken nearly a year to put the display together.

She said: “I wanted to give something back. My son Elliot (10) is autistic and Spalding Primary have been so good with him.

“He has been my inspiration and when I think of what he has to deal with on a daily basis, it makes me push myself as hard.”

With the help of South Holland district councillor Roger Gambba-Jones, who arranged around £450 funding for the project, Dawn worked with children from Spalding Primary from Reception class up to Year 6.

She runs her own business called Dawn Allen Fibre Artist and explained that the process used to make the poppies, (wet felting) is an ancient technique.

She said: “We used Merino wool (from Merino sheep).

“You cross the fibres and work them into a circle then add warm soapy water. You tickle it so it becomes like a piece of felt. It then shrinks down and the fibres tangle together to create the poppy.

“Each poppy that was made is coded so the children can have their own poppy back afterwards as a keepsake.”

Dawn (43), had to hand sew each poppy onto a camouflage netting to create the display, which is in the image of a poppy field with a cross.

She said: “I might have had a little tear when I saw it go up. It has been from January until now since I first came up with the idea.”

Dawn, who lives with Elliot, partner Antony Brown and stepsons Joshua (9) and Joseph (13), studied fine art at college and took a course in wet felting when she saw a class advertised while living in Downham Market.

Gail Bell, teaching assistant at Spalding Primary, said: “All children, from Reception classes to Year 6, took part in this wonderful opportunity to produce a felt poppy that they will be able to wear .

“Miss Allen worked alongside Amanda Wright, myself and Courtney Bell, who are staff members at school.

“The staff and the children were amazed at how quickly the felt fibres turned into a beautiful poppy.

“They were so proud that they were creating such a memorable piece of art to pay respect to the fallen heroes.”

The poppy has been adopted as a symbol of Remembrance since the First World War.

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