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Ashbourne's heartbreak as commemorative poppies accidently strimmed in council blunder

By Ashbourne News Telegraph  |  Posted: June 12, 2014

  • Trilby Shaw and Caroline Cooper inspect the damage to the poppies at Ashbourne cemetery off Mayfield Road

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POPPIES that were due to burst into a colourful tribute to the fallen soldiers of the First World War have been strimmed down by council workmen.

A prominent area of Ashbourne Cemetery had been set aside for the poignant display, which took an entire morning for 76-year-old commemoration organiser Trilby Shaw to sow, but it was destroyed in a few hours on Wednesday just as the young flowers had begun to take root.

Around 50,000 seeds had been sown in late March, which would have meant they would have been blooming by the end of July as Ashbourne joins the nation in remembering the outbreak of World War One.

Mrs Shaw said: "I'm not just mortified, I'm absolutely devastated. And I'm really mad about it because I'd spent the whole morning, trudging around in my mac' scattering 50,000 poppy seeds for them to be mown up like this.

"This was going to be so beautiful, it was going to be our memorial for the town and when I found out what had happened I just felt sick.

"It makes us look a bit silly too as we've gone around telling everyone we've planted all these poppy seeds all over the place and to look out for a lovely display and now there just won't be one. I'm devastated."

Derbyshire Dales District Council has apologised for the mess, blaming a communication breakdown, and said it will take "urgent action" to put things right.

In the spring last year the district council came under fire for a similar foul-up that saw an area of protected church yard at St Oswald's Church obliterated while daffodils were still in bloom.

Former Ashbourne Mayor Caroline Cooper, another member of the small committee that has been working for around two years to arrange the commemoration events that start next month, said she felt sick when she was told the field had been cut.

She said: "It's absolutely devastating and I'm beyond words with it all.

"I think it's a sad reflection on the state of the district council that, yet again, they've done something like this.

"It's very demoralising when we've worked so hard on something for two years. We've never stopped. I really don't know what else to say."

A spokesman for the Derbyshire Dales District council said: "The first thing to say is that we apologise sincerely for the mistake we made in Ashbourne Cemetery, but we are taking urgent action to put things right.

“The vast majority of our parks team are aware of the seeded area, but, due to a communications breakdown, a single team member who didn’t know about the poppies mowed that area of the cemetery following recent complaints from local residents about the length of the grass.

“The good news is that it isn’t too late to sow poppy seeds and that work begins immediately to ensure a display in what is an extremely special commemorative year.”

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