Ceramic forget-me-nots to carpet St Columba's Hospice garden

IT was one of the most talked about and striking tributes to the fallen of the First World War.

Friday, 15th April 2016, 9:18 am
Updated Friday, 15th April 2016, 9:24 am
St Columba's Nursing Auxiliary Maureen McCaskey plants a ceramic flower in the Tribute Garden. Picture: Neil Hanna

The cascade of poppies that trailed from the Tower of London onto the grassy moat below – each representing a life lost – was both stunning and poignant, and quickly became a highlight of 2014’s WW1 centenary events.

Now the idea has been adapted for Edinburgh’s St Columba’s Hospice, using hundreds of striking handcrafted blue forget-me-not flowers created by the same specialists who produced the Tower of London poppies.

Hundreds of beautiful blue and yellow ceramic flowers – each one handmade and unique – are to carpet the hospice’s courtyard, turning it into a poignant Tribute Garden, in memory of loved ones who received care and comfort there in their final hours.

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And as time goes on, each of the Tribute Garden flowers will be adorned with copper leaves, inscribed with the name of a life lost. Some 800 flowers have been specially handcrafted by the firm which produced the Tower of London poppy display, Stoke-on-Trent based Johnson’s Tiles. Each one has been glazed with three layers of paint to ensure they withstand the challenging Edinburgh weather.

The installation is part of the hospice’s new Tribute Funds initiative, which lets people who are raising money easily keep track of all the fundraising which has taken place in their name.

Each Tribute Fund will be represented by a blue and yellow forget-me-not. ­When the first donation to the fund is made, the copper leaf is added to the flower with an engraved message.

It means as the number of Tribute Funds grow, the garden of flowers will change with more leaves added each time.

Fay Paget, 71, of Stockbridge, who lost her husband Robert to liver cancer seven years ago aged 68, is the first to set up a fund and to have a loved one’s name linked to one of the 

Mrs Paget said: “The flowers are absolutely beautiful and will look even nicer once there are copper leaves attached.

“The Tower of London display was amazing, it’s such a nice way to remember someone.

“It doesn’t faze me at all being back at the hospice. Every time I’m there I feel I’m giving something back. That’s why I wanted to do this for Robert – it’s a way of saying ‘thank you’.”

The hospice is Edinburgh’s only independent hospice and provides free specialist palliative care to patients and support to family and friends. It also has a research and education centre for professionals.

It underwent a major renovation programme in 2104, partly paid for by thousands of Evening News readers who contributed to our Buy a Brick campaign, donating over £370,000 in memory of a loved one.

For more information on the Tribute Funds go to www.stcolumbashospice.org.uk.