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Suffolk Mind is celebrating some of its volunteers – who are currently on their way to making 2,018 poppies to commemorate the centenary of Armistice Day next year.
50-year-old Samantha Lanier is part of the team which has already made 200 poppies. History is a passion of hers, studying the subject at the University of Suffolk.
However, with just one semester left of her degree, Samantha was diagnosed with terminal cancer, “I was devastated that I would not be able to achieve a better quality of life for myself and my young daughter, which had been my motivation. I believed that my employment opportunities would be diminished greatly with a long-term health condition,” Samantha said.
Samantha then came across the Poppy Project run by Suffolk Mind at Quay Place in Ipswich. It’s an opportunity to take part in an exhibition which will be based inside Quay Place next year, honouring and acknowledging the sacrifice made by the community in the First World War.
Ginny Idehen, from Suffolk Mind, said: “We all have emotional needs that must be met in order to stay well – things like achievement, community, attention and having an emotional connection with someone.
“Sometimes challenges that come along in life can stop us meeting some of those needs. Our Poppy Project enables participants to feel connected to the stories and people of the past. They are achieving a great deal by making poppies out of many different materials, and expanding their knowledge as they learn about those who fought and died in the war and people who lived and worked around Quay Place.”
Samantha is now working with local schools encouraging young people to participate in the making of poppies and thinking about the men who fought in the war. Samantha added, “When I was asked to facilitate the community poppy project on a voluntary basis, I was overjoyed that someone wanted my skills and knowledge. When coping with a long-term health condition it is all too easy to become isolated, depressed and lose one’s sense of purpose. Volunteering a few hours a week, has helped to address those issues.”
As part of the Poppy Project, Samantha has also been researching the lives of a small group of men who died in the Battle of Arras in 1917.
“I love making the poppies at the Monday morning group and talking to other people who also come along,” she continued. “I enjoy the other element of the project too, which is researching the men in the memorial in readiness for an exhibition in 2018. The Poppy Project has given me an opportunity to use my degree to help put something back into the community.”
Samantha has now finished her degree, and was awarded a 2.1 in History.