Wooden poppy purchased in memory of great great uncle

The bravery and heroism of a former soldier of the First World War who died from shrapnel wounds just a few days before the end of the conflict is being commemorated.

Private Frank Hall’s memory is immortalised with a wooden poppy on the serpentine bench in the Abbey Gardens, in Bury St Edmunds, which is part of the town’s First World War trail being organised by the My WiSH Charity and supported by Our Bury St Edmunds.

He is the great great uncle of Jan Bloomfield, the director of workforce and communications at the West Suffolk Hospital, with money raised from the trail going to support the £500,000 appeal to help complete a fully integrated cardiac centre at the hospital.

Pte Hall, who came from Bolton, in Lancashire, was a member of the Durham Light Infantryand died on October 15, 1918, aged 21, just three weeks before the end of the war. He is buried in a grave at the Lljssenthoek Military Cemetery, in Poperinge, on the Belgium/French border.

Just two months earlier he had special leave as an acknowledgment of his heroism and generosity in giving a quart of his blood in an effort to help a wounded officer in hospital.

However, the transfusion was unsuccessful and the officer died.

Pte Hall had hardly recovered his strength when he went back to duty on the front line and subsequently suffered his fatal injuries.

Jan has several mementoesof her brave relative including postcards, a special penny cast in her great great uncle’s name, a plaque of his wooden cross and two poignant letters he wrote while fighting: one to his sister, Jan’s great grandmother, and the other to his little daughter Jennie.

She has visited Pte Hall’s grave and has had friends place crosses at the site when they visit the area.

She said: “It means a lot to me to purchase one of the poppies on the benchand I think that it’s really important that young people remember what happened during the war and don’t forget the sacrifices the men made and what they did.

“You need to capture the stories otherwise they die with the men and I am keen to keep his name alive so that my children can talk about great uncle Frank and remember him.”

People wanting to purchase one of the iconic wooden poppies can go to the My WiSH Charitywebsite and download the form at https://bit.ly/2xPa0pQ

The trail features 18 pieces, commissioned by local artists and sculptors, dotted in prime town centre sites and is now on show  through to Armistice Day, on November 11.  At the culmination of the trail an auction will take place to sell off all of the pieces to go to the My WiSH Charity’s Every Heart Matters appeal.

The West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust is investing £5.2m in developing a state of the art cardiac suite that will provide quicker access to more treatments, but the £500,000 My WiSH Charity is hoping to raise will lead to the whole unit, which is currently fragmented on different floors, being brought together in one purpose-built centre.

Treatt, the leading beverage ingredient solutions manufacturer based in Bury St Edmunds, will be the main sponsor for the trail, and Daemmon Reeve, group CEO, said: “It’s fantastic to be able to support this ambitious and exciting project which remembers the bravery of those who fought in World War One and is also helping to raise the £500,000 needed to fund the brand new cardiac centre at the hospital.”

If you want to support the Every Heart Matters appeal go to the websitewww.mywishcharity.co.uk and if you would like to donate to the appeal you can do so by going to Justgiving.com/ehma or text EHMA17 £10 to 70070.

Pictured above is Jan Bloomfield with three of the wooden poppies, a penny cast in memory of her great great uncle Pte Frank Hall and a photograph of him.

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