A military parade and day of celebration and remembrance was held in Haywards Heath on Sunday.
Strictly Poppies saw the community come together at The Orchards in memory of all those who have fallen in battle, but also to celebrate peace.
In addition to the music and singing, games and costume competition, the day also saw the launch of he River of Poppies, which aims to ‘plant’ 10,000 hand-made poppies throughout the local area.
The Orchards Shopping Centre manager Nicola Bird said: “Since I joined the Orchards, I’ve wanted to create a social hub for Haywards Heath. A place where people can come, relax, meet friends and family and make new friends.
“We have held countless events here trying to achieve just that, however Sunday’s event exceeded my expectations.
“It was without a doubt the most beautiful event The Orchards has ever undertaken.
“It was held for the Centenary of WWI, to remember our heroes that gave their lives for us and their country, but also to celebrate peace.
“We were so honoured to have so many incredible people here.
“The procession was lead by the high sheriff of West Sussex, Caroline Nicholls and Deputy Lieutenant Col. Richard Putnam, Burgess Hill Marching Youth, the cadets, veterans, marines, Scouts and Guides followed. Col. Richard Putnam and Caroline Nicholls presented moving speeches to a huge crowd before the planting of the first poppy.
“The River of Poppies will eventually run from The Orchards to Muster Green.
“Sylvia Harris from the Haywards Heath Horticultural Society is working tirelessly across the community encouraging everyone to make a total of 10,000 poppies.”
Following the planting of the first poppy, The Orchards staged a Festival of VE Day entertainment from the Charleston days through to Big Band, poetry and drama.
Nicola said: “So many people gave up their time to help organise this memorable day, and I cannot tell them enough of how grateful I am.
“They are incredible people. My special thanks goes to Sylvia Harris, Laura Morgan, Ruth de Mierre, Gill Evaroa, Diann Johnson and Danny Kington from the Royal British Legion.
“We have received so many calls and letters already thanking us for the day, but the pleasure was ours and I’m so pleased thousands of people enjoyed themselves.”
Pick up this week’s Middy, which is out tomorrow (July 19), to see our double-page picture special on the event.