NEIGHBOURS in Royal Wootton Bassett are urging UK businesses and members of the public to help fund the replacement of the town’s Forever Poppy.

The marble statue commemorated the 355 fallen service personnel who were repatriated to RAF Lyneham. It collapsed in 2017 and fundraising is ongoing for the £290,000 new one.

Led by Tom Patterson, a committee is calling on the community to pay their respects to fallen service personnel this Remembrance Sunday by donating to the Forever Poppy Fund appeal.

Tom said: “This cause is very dear to the hearts of all Royal Wootton Bassett residents. Our repatriation ceremony is unique in the sense that the high street comes to a complete standstill on Armistice Day in order to honour the fallen.

“While work is underway, the replacement of the Forever Poppy is expected to cost in the region of £290,000, and we need help in funding this important commemorative symbol for the brave service men and women who have risked their lives for this country.

“We have been very pleased with the community support thus far and are delighted to already have an exceptional artist in Stephen Pettifer working on the redesign.”

Stone sculptor Steven Pettifer supported the appeal and enjoyed the challenge of designing and creating a realistic poppy entirely out of bronze.

Stephen added: “I was really eager to get involved and create something that is both symbolic for the town of Royal Wootton Bassett and for our country. Like people, poppies are delicate, and have come to embody just how fragile human life really is.

“It is an honour to be involved in a project that reminds us of the enormous sacrifice our armed forces have made on behalf of this country."

The replacement statue could take a year to complete.

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