Local hearts go out to lost and wounded soldiers

SWEETHEARTS: Glenda McKenzie, Ruth Ryan and Donna Jenner with their memorial hearts.
SWEETHEARTS: Glenda McKenzie, Ruth Ryan and Donna Jenner with their memorial hearts. Karen Ryan

THIS year marks the centenary of the Battle of the Somme and a group of Bangalow residents is taking part in a unique commemoration of the darkest periods in the First World War.

Six local families have re-created "Sweetheart cushions”, mementos hand sewn by wounded soldiers in France and sent home to their families as messages of love and consolation.

The cushions will be part of a larger One Hundred Hearts exhibition to be staged next month in Salisbury Cathedral in England.

The project stems from last year's Bangalow Show theme of 1915 Home Front, after One Hundred Hearts organiser Karen Thomas, from the Armed Forces Charity SSAFA, saw the Bangalow Show website and asked the show society committee to get involved.

Hearts were created locally by Shirley Boyle, Robyn Hornery, Donna Jenner and Glenis Crosswell, Karen and Ruth Ryan, Jan Guest and Glenda Mckenzie.

Ms McKenzies made hers for her great-uncle, lost at the Battle of Fromelles. Ruth and Karen Ryan made their Silent Night heart for Karen's great-grandfather Valentine Willis, who was part of the first Gallipoli landing before finally transferring to France where he was wounded.

"His strongest and only memory was of the Germans singing Silent Night in their trenches, so we took that as our theme,” Karen said.

The hearts will be exhibited alongside another Australian Heart created by the English "sewing soldier”, Lt Col Neil Stace, in the Cathedral throughout November.

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Topics:  battle of the somme

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