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Horrors of the 1914/18 conflict turned into positive pieces for the World War 1 Trail

PUBLISHED: 12:03 19 October 2018 | UPDATED: 08:01 01 November 2018

Heidi McEvoy-Swift with her Casualty Dog at the Greene King Beer Cafe. Picture: RUSSELL COOK

Heidi McEvoy-Swift with her Casualty Dog at the Greene King Beer Cafe. Picture: RUSSELL COOK

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The abject horrors and images of the First World War have been the inspiration behind a textile artist’s work for the World War 1 Trail, in Bury St Edmunds, which is just week’s away from ending.

Heidi McEvoy-Swift with her Peace Bells at the Cathedral. Picture: RUSSELL COOKHeidi McEvoy-Swift with her Peace Bells at the Cathedral. Picture: RUSSELL COOK

As people continue to walk the imaginative trail Heidi McEvoy-Swift described how during her research she came across dreadful stories and evidence of the unimaginable pain and suffering of the soldiers during the 1914-18 conflict.

And she has turned them into two positive pieces named “Peace” and “Casualty Dog” in a bid to commemorate and remember the lost souls from the war.

The trail, which is being sponsored by Bury St Edmunds’ company Treatt, is being organised by My WiSH Charity and Our Bury St Edmunds, the business improvement district in the town, and runs until Armistice Day, on November 11.

There will then be an auction for all of the pieces with funds going to the charity’s Every Heart Matters appeal which is aiming to raise £500,000 for a new cardiac diagnostic centre at the West Suffolk Hospital.

Every Heart Matters logoEvery Heart Matters logo

“Peace”, which is located in St Edmundsbury Cathedral, features 11 patchwork-created, soft, silent bells to celebrate and commemorate the end of the conflict and the beginning of peace.

Individually they represent Brotherhood, Sea, Field, Gas, Mud, Blood, Bloom, Dawn, Joy, Glory and Home with each bearing a fragment of a World War 1 poem or song.

Heidi said: “Reading so much World War 1 poetry and researching the war for the Trail has been both enlightening, and very, very sad. I am glad to be working on a piece that celebrates the end of the war, while allowing the poetry to speak of those four gruelling years.”

It is sponsored by clothing store Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing while “Casualty Dog” which is situated in the Greene King Beer Café, is sponsored by the brewery.

Casualty dogs were trained to seek out the wounded on the battlefield.

They were equipped with emergency medical aid for those who were able to access it and they alerted medics to the presence of a wounded man.

“Other dogs were trained to seek out the mortally wounded and remain with them as a comforting companion to the end and other dogs worked as sentries, messengers, ratters, mascots and some even laid wires and cables or carried explosives,” said Heidi.

She tried to keep a lightness and some fun in the appearance of the dog and it features vintage silk cigarette cards from the war years, regimental cap badges and insignia.

She has also used postcards from the time transferred onto fabric.

Patchwork and embroidery were crafts practiced by soldiers at the front and often by those recovering from injury. Examples of such soldier’s needlework can be seen at the Suffolk Regiment Museum and it was that work which inspired her to make the dog.

“I found it so poignant that the dogs brought back tags of the dead soldiers and sat by the injured men in the field until they died to help give them comfort,” she said.

Sue Smith, fundraising manager for My WiSH, said, “We are delighted how the trail has gone so far, there is still time to go and see these amazing pieces and what they signify regarding the Great War. Heidi has been so supportive and her artwork is beautiful, if you would like to own one of these original pieces do get in touch”.

The West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust is investing £5.2m in developing a state of the art cardiac suite that will provide quicker access to more treatments, but the £500,000 My WiSH Charity is hoping to raise will lead to the whole unit, which is currently fragmented on different floors, being brought together in one purpose-built centre.

If you want to support the Every Heart Matters appeal go to the website www.mywishcharity.co.uk and if you would like to donate to the appeal you can do so by going to: Justgiving.com/ehma or text EHMA17 £10 to 70070.

All pieces of artwork will be available to own and if you are interested in a specific piece, email sue.smith@wsh.nhs.uk

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