Artworks commemorate town’s 639 victims of First World War

Galashiels' war memorial, with the cascade of plastic poppies.
Galashiels' war memorial, with the cascade of plastic poppies.

Galashiels’ plans to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War continue apace with two separate projects.

An environmentally-friendly memorial made from hundreds of plastic bottles was unveiled last week.

The Poppy Teardrop was created by Jenni Golder after she, with members of Energise Galashiels and volunteers, collected, washed and reused the bottles over the space of a year as part of the Gala Remembers 2018 initiative.

The Galashiels artist’s work contains more than 1,750 poppies created from plastic that could otherwise have ended up in landfill.

It was revealed at Galashiels war memorial last Friday as a tribute to the 639 men from the town who lost their lives during the 1914-18 war.

The artwork was put together in July this year using the collected bottles, with the base and top of each bottle cut and then washed again. The plastic was then painted red and had holes drilled in each piece to create the teardrop.

Former councillor Bill White, Gala Remembers 2018’s chairman, said: “This has been a fantastic project which not only provides a unique and special memorial to those who died during the Great War but also reuses plastics at a time when the impact of the material on the environment is a huge issue across the globe.

“A real community effort was needed to collect all the plastic bottles required by Jenni to make the final design, which has impressed all those who have seen it so far”.

“We hope it inspires people to remember their past, as well as look to the future and the positive impact we can have on the environment.”

Selkirkshire councillor Gordon Edgar, Scottish Borders Council’s energy efficiency champion, added: “It is great to see Jenni Golder and her team of volunteers play their part by reusing plastic bottles which otherwise could have affected our local environment.

“For the material to then be used for such a worthwhile project is fantastic, and it should encourage the reduce-reuse-recycle message we want to get across.”

In another project, S2 pupils from the town’s academy were asked to design banners to mark the centenary, with the best 14 being hung up on poles throughout the town centre.

Mr White said: “The banners designed by the the local secondary school children were of an extremely high standard.

“They were all winners. However, only 14 could be selected for the final banners displayed in the town, and it was a very difficult task for the judges to select the winners.

“They should all be very proud of their work.”

One of the winning pupils, Finn Murray, 13, said: “”Our art class did research into Remembrance Day. I found images and photos which inspired me before I started work on my design. I was amazed that my design was chosen to go on public display.”

Gala Remembers 2018 is a partnership of community groups and organisations working together to create a respectful commemoration for all those who served the country during the war.

It aims to provide educational opportunities, as well as provide entertainment to attract thousands of visitors to Galashiels and highlight the importance of community engagement at the start of a major regeneration scheme for the town.