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Cambridge Poppy Project blooming with worldwide support

The volunteer group increased its goal from 10,000 to 20,000 after an overwhelming response from people all over Canada and from across the world

Local artist Danny Ingrouville found his labour of love when he was approached by the Cambridge Poppy Project.

His father, Daniel Joseph Ingrouville, was a Second World War veteran, who fought in Holland, England, Germany, and France.

"He died last year at 95," said Ingrouville. "We just celebrated one year of his passing. It was a huge honour to be asked to do this."

The task the Cambridge display artist has to complete is to use the 13,000 or so knitted or crocheted poppies to create an exhibit for this year's Remembrance Day.

The project was initiated by Jayne Herring, who lives in the Galt area, when she saw a similar display on a trip to Niagara Falls last year.

"I was just so moved by it that I said to my husband, 'We need to bring this to Cambridge,'" she said. 

And bring it to Cambridge she did.

"I made a few phone calls, and I'm blessed to know a lot of people, so we put together a team of seven people and had our first (virtual) meeting in December and here we are today," said Herring.

The project, which started out with what was then thought of as an overwhelming target of 10,000 poppies, has now collected more than 13,000 knitted and crocheted black and red flowers representing the symbol used to honour veterans. The response from those sending in flowers from all across the world encouraged the group to raise its target to 20,000 poppies to be used in three exhibits that Ingrouville will create at each location of the IDEA Exchange in the city.

"There were a lot of things to consider for the design," he said, adding he couldn't reveal a lot about the final approved idea because he wanted to keep it suspense until the big reveal in October. "You want it to be extremely respectful, inclusive, and generic that you're not missing out on anyone that it could be representing. You want it to represent the veterans past and present.

"It's a subtle design but it's opulent as well," said Ingrouville. "When you've got 13,000 poppies, opulence is easy to get to."

There will also be a representation of the soldier figure in the design, he said. 

The size of each exhibit varies according to the space available at each building, said Ingrouville, but it could be as big as 30 feet by 20 feet, with sections being 20 feet by 15 feet.

"I've already made almost fully one, and it took a little under a week to work on that," he said. "Now that we know what the process is, we're going to have a socially distanced practice with the committee coming together to do it and figure out a way for the community to get involved as well."

In addition, said Ingrouville, The Royal Highland Fusiliers of Canada Cambridge Armoury reached out to the group to ask for a display to go on the tank outside the armoury.

"They're giving us camouflage netting to put poppies on it," he said. "We're having 152 larger poppies made to represent the Cambridge veterans that have died in Afghanistan."

Where the poppies Ingrouville will be using have been made following the design approved by the Royal Canadian Legion (RCL), Herring said, they've also received some alternative designs made with a variety of media.

She said fellow committee member, Sue Sturdy, is planning a complimentary display of all those poppies that will be displayed for a bit longer than the main display, which will be available for viewing from Oct. 29, till noon Nov. 12, in accordance with the RCL's guidelines.

Visit the project website to learn more and to contribute.