Whitehead Friends of the Fallen plan Somme tribute

Whitehead Friends of the Fallen are to erect commemorative poppy plaques in Whitehead and Carrickfergus. INCT 48-740-CON
Whitehead Friends of the Fallen are to erect commemorative poppy plaques in Whitehead and Carrickfergus. INCT 48-740-CON

Whitehead Friends of the Fallen have launched the first of their projects commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme in 2016.

The group is planning to erect poppy plaques along Marine Highway in Carrickfergus and Belfast Road, Whitehead, to mark the start of the Battle of the Somme on July 1.

Proceeds raised from the plaques will go to Carrickfergus Royal British Legion. INCT 48-741-CON

Proceeds raised from the plaques will go to Carrickfergus Royal British Legion. INCT 48-741-CON

Rodney Champion, of Whitehead Friends of the Fallen, said they are keen to hear from individuals, lodges, apprentice boys clubs, bands, businesses etc that would be interested in having one of these large poppy plaques with the name of their business/group or in memory of a loved one printed along the lower petal.

“The plaques will cost £25 each, all profits will be donated to Carrickfergus Royal British Legion,” said Mr Champion.

The plaques, he added, will be removed and stored safely on November 18, the day the Battle of the Somme ended in 1916.

Formed in August 2012, Whitehead Friends of the Fallen now has 15 members who have been involved in initiatives such as looking after and maintaining the graves of war veterans during the summer months.

Mr Champion continued: “We are also in the middle of collecting for our annual veterans’ Christmas hampers. We collect food and toiletries and make hampers up for approximately 20 veterans or their families within the old Carrick Borough Council area.

“Our group has travelled to the Somme battlefields in 2014 and this year we visited the Normandy D-Day invasion beaches so we could educate ourselves and pay homage to the fallen of both world wars.

“Our group meets at least once a month in Whitehead Orange Hall, where we have organised lectures around World War One, and intend to build a replica World War One bunker over the next few months in time for the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme.”

Anyone interested in sponsoring a plaque is asked to send an e-mail with details to rodney.champion@yahoo.co.uk