Students unveiled a stunning new structure to mark the centenary of Armistice Day – after receiving help and support from South East Galvanizers.
Staff and students at Colchester Institute helped to design and build the commemorative work, which was formally unveiled in a special First World War Centenary Event.
And South East Galvanizers, based in nearby Witham, were happy to play a key role in the project – by supporting the galvanizing of each section of the steel structure.
The one-off abstract piece was filled with metal poppies as a tribute to those who died in conflict and to mark 100 years since the end of the First World War.
They will remain in place for a number of weeks after the ceremony before being removed, framed and auctioned off to raise funds for the Royal British Legion – the College’s charity of the year.
The globe structure, however, will remain in place at the Colchester campus and be used to mark other significant occasions throughout the year.
Around 100 guests were invited to the unveiling ceremony on November 7, who stood alongside many Colchester Institute students. They included HM Lord Lieutenant of Essex Jennifer Tolhurst, Bryan Burrough Esq, the High Sherriff of Essex, Lieutenant Colonel Steve Caldwell, MP Will Quince and Mayor of Colchester Cllr Peter Chillingworth.
Also present were several of the Engineering and Manufacturing students who put the project together as well as representatives from the six companies that lent their support by providing materials, manufacturing and processing.
The final 10 poppies were placed on the structure in a gesture of respect before student Callum Taylor performed a reading of ‘In Flanders Fields’. A bugler sounded ‘The Last Post’ ahead of 100 minutes of silence.
Commemorative refreshments were provided in mess tins and beverages were served in enamel mugs synonymous of those used by soldiers in the Great War. Gold tobacco tins containing a poem and special red poppy-shaped chocolates were handed to guests as a keepsake.
Shane Steward, Head of Engineering at Colchester Institute – the largest vocational college serving the North Essex area - said: “We wanted to do something special to commemorate the First World War centenary.
“So I came up with an idea and my students started initial work before the summer. It took around 200 hours in total as they used the project to learn key welding and fabrication skills and we were really pleased with how it turned out.
“The design of the structure can mean different things to different people but the idea was to show a fragmented earth suspended in space. It’s abstract but the poppies, which were also made and painted by our students, made it relevant to the time of the event.
“We wanted it to have an industrial look and, because it will remain on site for many years to come, we needed it to be able to be weather-proof.
“Luckily, South East Galvanizers agreed to galvanize the main parts to ensure they remain free of corrosion and they also picked up the sections, processed them and returned them.
“It was fantastic for them to support us in that way and we can’t thank them enough.”
The 2.75m-diameter structure is bolted to a 1.8m-high strut and has a 1.5m square base, both also processed by South East Galvanizers.
Neil Pearson, commercial manager at the plant, was invited to the unveiling ceremony alongside other sponsors of the project.
He added: “We thought this was a fantastic initiative, particularly as it was partly a tribute to the centenary of Armistice Day.
“It’s also right on the doorstep of our plant in Witham so we were keen to get involved and happy to absorb the cost of transporting the parts to and from our site as well as the galvanizing process itself.
“The design of the structure made the operation quite complex but we worked closely with Colchester Institute to produce an excellent finish that will ensure the steel remains free of corrosion for many years.
“We’re watched closely as the project has come together and we’re proud to have been involved.”
The structure won praise from the VIP guests at the unveiling ceremony.
Jennifer Tolhurst, HM Lord Lieutenant of Essex, said: “The structure is outstanding and, while it’s so important to remember the sacrifices made, it’s inspiring to know the College will be using it for other events as well.”
Wil Quince, MP for Colchester, added: “If you look at the way so many people came together to bring this about, from the initial idea to students working with local businesses, the Army and the nearby Garrison to make it happen, I think it’s really significant.”
Lieutenant Colonel David Lord said: “It’s a very complicated piece of engineering and must have been very difficult to produce, but it’s been a great collaborative project and is a very fitting memorial.”
By Wedge Group Galvanizing Ltd