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WANTED: Volunteer singers and sunflower makers for Remembrance project

26 October 2018

People of Stockton-on-Tees - your Borough needs you!

Image of Sunflower making at the Remembrance Project

That's the message from Stockton musician, Mike McGrother (pictured), who is organising an event to help the Borough mark the centenary of the end of the First World War.

The Remembrance Day event - called 'Point Me To The Skies' - will see Trinity Church become home to a stunning display of 1,245 'sunflowers'.

Made from recycled plastic bottles, the installation will be on show from 8am to 6.30pm (last entry 6pm) on Sunday, November 11.

Then, from 7pm to 8pm, there'll be a moving event featuring storytelling and songs at Trinity Church with backing from the '1,245 Voice Choir'.

How can I help?

What Mike needs is singers and sunflower makers!

No experience is needed and people of all ages are welcome, though children must be accompanied by an adult.

Drop-in sunflower making sessions are being held in the Rediscover shop on Stockton High Street between 1pm and 4pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, up to and including Thursday, November 8.

Or, if singing is more your thing - no matter what your ability - there are two opportunities to get involved.

The first is a rehearsal at the Whole Latte Love café in Bridge Road (opposite the Thomas Sheraton pub) taking place from 6.30pm to 8pm on Tuesday, October 30.

And the second is a rehearsal at ARC in Dovecot Street from 7pm to 8.15pm on Wednesday, November 7.

What's the significance of the number 1,245?

In 2014, the people of Stockton-on-Tees came together to grow 1,245 sunflowers in memory of their Great War dead.

Inspired by Stockton's Book of Remembrance, which lists 1,245 soldiers who died in the Great War, 1,245 Sunflowers was an opportunity to reflect on the lives of those who went to war and never returned.

It was the first of many community projects and events organised to commemorate the Great War centenary in the Borough, including Mike's walk in memory of Private George Hunter earlier this year and the stunning augmented reality Danger Tree exhibition.

This year's Remembrance Day events will bring those centenary commemorations to a fitting close.

Why does Mike need help?

Mike said: "On Sunday, November 11, Stockton will say goodbye to its '1,245 Sunflower' First World War soldiers with an emotive and community-led day of reflection, culminating in an evening event.

"In addition to the more traditional events planned across the Borough I am working with a host of groups and volunteers to create something which I think will be really very special.

"The very simple message to people is that you can be a part of it and to be honest, I really need the help! Remembrance is more than a thought; it is an action!

"Volunteers, groups, and my regular sunflower workshop in Holme House Prison have already collected, cleaned and prepared thousands of plastic bottles ready to turn into beautiful sunflowers for the art installation.

"We just need more volunteers help turn them into sunflowers. It's free and easy to get involved and the finished pieces look stunning, each one representing a life lost as a beautiful and unique art piece.

"As for the choir, we really want to hear from anyone who would like to take part. Think of it as a communal sing, rather than a choir for singers, so all we need is your heart and voice to take part.

"Everyone is welcome! You just need to be available for a rehearsal and for the performance itself on the evening of November 11."