A community led tribute of music, song and lights will conclude Stockton’s 1,245 Sunflowers Project next week to commemorate the outbreak of World War One.
Families, individuals and community groups are invited to bring their cut down sunflowers to the Parish Gardens in Stockton from 2 – 5 August where young volunteers will help them to display the flowers and help turn the town gold in honour of those who fought and died during the war.
The closing moving tribute will then start in the Parish Gardens on the evening of Monday 4 August, the 100th anniversary of the start of the Great War.
Lights across the Gardens will be switched off at 10pm making way for Stockton’s War Memorial to be lit golden as a symbolic reminder of the lives that were lost.
Stockton’s book of Remembrance, which lists the town’s 1,245 fallen soldiers, will be displayed in Parish Gardens and visitors invited to light one of many hundreds of candles in the garden.
At precisely 11pm to the sound of Church Bells, a Homefire will be lit, burning overnight for 1,245 minutes. A solemn reading of names will take place into the early hours and people will be welcome to stay and keep watch throughout the vigil.
The Parish Church and Gardens will remain open until 5pm the following day as a place for people to remember and reflect on the lives of those lost in conflict.
They will reopen at 7pm on the evening of Tuesday 5 August for a candlelit, community-led tribute of music, singing and readings as the town says a final goodbye to the fallen soldiers.
Music of the World War One era will form the opening backdrop to the evening and members of the community will be invited to join in communal singing led by Stockton Town Choir.
The Mayor of Stockton, Councillor Barbara Inman, will light a candle from the Homefire in memory of the unnamed soldier who lost their life in battle.
Councillor Inman said: “The 1,245 Sunflowers project has been a wonderful, fitting tribute to the ordinary people of Stockton who gave up their lives to fight for their country.
“I am honoured to be a part of this special project which has brought people from across Stockton and beyond to pay tribute to the many young men and women whose lives were lost - not only during the First World War but other conflicts since. It will certainly be one to remember.”
The night will play out to the sound of a lone bugler on the central bandstand.
For further details of the 1,245 Sunflowers Project and to see the full running order of the weekend, visit www.stockton.gov.uk/sunflowers or http://1245sunflowers.org