Painting the town with flowers

Ashley Hanlon's test Forget-me-Not window for the Sleaford Remembrance Trail 2016 project. EMN-160706-110215001
Ashley Hanlon's test Forget-me-Not window for the Sleaford Remembrance Trail 2016 project. EMN-160706-110215001

Gone but not forgotten – that is the message behind Sleaford’s Remembrance Trail.

Local craftswoman Ash Hanlon will once again be painting flowers in shop windows across the town, with each flower representing casualties in conflict.

This year, Ash has chosen blue forget-me-nots as the flower and will begin painting on Friday, September 2 (the day the Second World War ended) until September 23.

It follows on from an idea she had last year when she decorated the window of her workplace, the Pottery Painting Cafe in Westgate with 80 poppies to represent the eight million horses that died in the First World War.

Word quickly spread and she ended up decorating shops all around the town.

She said: “Last year’s event, though completely unplanned, was incredibly popular, and I hope that this year with added planning, we can as a town, outdo ourselves!”

She’s hoping community groups and volunteers will get involved to help paint the windows and take the forget-me-nots out to the surrounding villages and RAF bases.

The project also has a personal note for Ash as she wanted it this year to also benefit a mental health charity, because of her own experiences.

She said: “I was determined to benefit a mental health charity, because of my own severe depression. I received treatment for PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) two years ago, and survived 2015 only because of the recovery I made at RAF Akrotiri (in Cyprus.)

“I arrived to stay with a friend Cpl Taylor (RAF) fully intending to take my own life, and instead, left calmer and more at peace than I have been in a long time.

“This year, I made the decision that I would redo the project, and make that my long term survival goal. So far I’m still alive, so it must be working!”

The charities she has chosen to benefit from the project is Combat Stress, SSAFA and Scotty’s Little Soldiers, which have all helped people known to Ash.

She said: “I will be asking for nominations for people to have their own remembrance forget-me-not.

“These will be placed primarily in vehicles or at special locations, relevant to the life of the nominated person.

“I’ll ask for a short description of the person (so that I can find a suitable location), and a photograph for the Facebook page (this is optional) and the details they would like displayed on the window.”

She also hopes to get paw prints from various dogs to represent the thousands of dogs used by all sides during the First World War.

Follow Sleaford Remembrance Trail on Facebook.