Silhouette soldiers salute Wrexham care home heroes in Poppy Day tribute

THE life-size silhouettes of two soldiers will stand guard at the entrance to a care organisation as a special tribute to two Second World War veterans who died last year.

D-Day hero Dennis Young, who was injured twice during the pivotal campaign, and Spitfire mechanic Ernest Simmonds were both residents of Pendine Park in Wrexham.

The brave duo passed away last year but staff and residents at Pendine are determined they will not be forgotten as they support the 2020 Poppy Appeal.

They are also remembering fellow veteran Bill Evans, who sadly died a year earlier in 2018, more than 70 years after he fought his way through Europe and helped liberate Brussels.

Another veteran, Albert Rowlands, who lives at Pendine’s Gwern Alyn care home, celebrated his 100th birthday earlier this year, having served in the Royal Military Police during World War Two.

The poignant Remembrance Sunday commemoration is the idea of Pendine’s talented artist-in-residence, Sarah Edwards.

She drew the outline onto a huge 8ft board and enlisted the help of David Williams from the maintenance team who cut out the shape of two identical six foot soldiers.

Sarah said: “Our residents are always keen to honour the brave heroes who put their lives on the line, with far too many of them paying the ultimate sacrifice.

“Here at Pendine we were privileged to provide care for the likes of Dennis, Ern and Bill who will never be forgotten by us.

“Earlier this year Albert celebrated his 100th birthday, having been caught up in the tragic Gresford Colliery disaster in 1934. He was a lamp boy at the pit and his father was one of the 266 miners who died as the result of a devastating underground explosion.”

She added: “To mark VE Day this summer we made an art installation of hundreds of poppies which went on display in the grounds.

“A few years ago, Penybryn activities coordinator Elaine Lee came up with the idea of a spectacular weeping wall of poppies which went on display at the care home after residents handmade literally thousands of poppies.

“We also hand-made Forget-me-nots in our art classes which went on display a couple of years ago at St Asaph Cathedral during the North Wales International Music Festival.

“Art is an important part of our enrichment programme and residents enjoy the whole process of creating something special especially when it comes to working as part of a team.”

“We sell poppies at our homes on behalf of the Royal British Legion appeal and this year will be no different although we can’t have visitors at the moment.

“As well as paying tribute to our own veterans, the two soldier silhouettes at the entrance to Pendine Park will be a touching reminder of all those that gave their lives in two world wars and other conflicts so we can enjoy the freedom we have today."

Former Shotton Paper forklift truck driver, Tony Ithell, 61, a resident of Penybryn Brain Injury and Neurological Care Home, who suffered a massive stroke in 2014 that left him needing round the clock care, enjoyed painting the soldier silhouettes.

He said: “We always do something for Remembrance Day and the two soldier silhouettes look brilliant.

“The virus has been really bad and meant we can’t do as much as we would like but at least we have done something to remind people about Poppy Day. It’s a shame we can’t go outside but we will have our own Remembrance Day and think about all those that died.”

Fellow Penybryn resident Mike Blakely, 60, a former cabinet maker from Bagillt, Flintshire, was pleased to be a part of the project.

He said: “They look really good. They are very tall so Tony had to do the higher bits as I’m in a wheelchair. It is a shame we can’t do more this year but the virus has made things difficult.

“We talked about what we could do and when the soldier silhouette idea was suggested I thought it was a great idea. It will let anyone arriving at Pendine Park know that we haven’t forgotten.”