D-DAY veteran Jock Hutton who parachuted back into Normandy to mark the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings will join fellow veterans, Royal British Legion members, schoolchildren and the Armed Forces at Ripon racecourse on August 4 – to mark the centenary of the day Britain entered the First World War.
Ripon racecourse was actually running on the day Britain entered the war – and will be racing again this year on the 100th anniversary when they are expecting over 3,500 people including special guests, Jock Hutton and other Second World War veterans, Maj General Michael Schute, Brigadier Vic Walker and Lieut Col Donald Hobson .
The centenary event will be held at 1.30pm and has been organised by former RBL poppy appeal organiser and trainee chef, Albert Weidemann who has spent the last three months on a campaign to raise the profile of this historic commemoration by sowing as many poppy seeds as possible to make his town awash with the symbolic red flowers over the next four years.
Inspired by the Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales’ poppy campaign which sent packets of poppy seeds to every church and every church school, Albert started on his own one man campaign to inspire others to help paint his town red with poppies.
“I wanted to support the diocese’s campaign and build on it. It’s about passing on the love and passion of a vision to others to encourage them to make it their own.
“Whether it’s one person planting one seed, or thousands doing it, the outcome is exactly the same. The poppy is a recognisable symbol of sacrifice and giving and if it was not for all their sacrifice, many of us would not be here today,” he said.
So first, Albert talked to his daughter, Cheri who works at the Ripon branch of the fast food giant, McDonald's. He met with her boss and staff there, they happily agreed to plant poppies setting aside a piece of ground and spent their coffee break sowing poppy seeds together to create a little garden.
That was just the start. Now Albert has helped sow 50,000 poppy seeds in scores of poppy planting ceremonies across the town including the world famous Racecourse and the Ripon Spa Hotel with the mayor, other civic leaders, veterans, school children, uniformed organisations, a Second World War re-enactment society, Help For Heroes, HMS Heroes, churches, Ripon Cathedral, the community, a bugler from Ripon Brass Band, RAF Menwith Hill. Staff and residents also held a ceremony at the RBL Poppy Home, Lister House with soldiers from the 21 Engineers Regiment based at Claro Barracks.
The 54-year-old said: “All things are possible for those who have faith and belief in themselves and others even during the most difficult times".
“I have been inspired by how many people have taken this up and it just keeps growing. Already there are plans for a memorial garden at the Racecourse, a joint British and American D-Day event, we’ve been contacted by CNN and Fox News in America and linked up on Facebook with Steven L Rogers, Commissioner of Nutley in New Jersey, America.
“It’s just caught people’s imagination and I am pleased and proud to be a small part of it,” said Albert.
Ripon Racecourse was actually racing on the day Britain entered the First World War and will be racing again on 4 August 2014.
The 89-year-old D-Day veteran Jock Hutton will be guest of honour with other veterans at the commemoration at Ripon Racecourse to mark the 100th anniversary at 1.30pm
Contact Albert on 07917 156093 - email: ajweidemann [at] googlemail.com