Poppy Wreath Pilgrimage to pay tribute to World War One Heroes

University of Leicester to visit war memorials in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland

On Sunday 11 November, Sir David Attenborough OM and Michael Attenborough CBE will launch a three year mission for the University of Leicester – to lay a poppy wreath at war memorials in the region, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the end of World War One.

As the University begins its centenary celebrations, students, staff and alumni will complete a Poppy Wreath Pilgrimage during 2018-2021. A memorial wreath will be laid at memorial sites across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.

The Attenboroughs, alongside the University’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Boyle CBE, will lay the first wreath of this pilgrimage during the city’s remembrance service on Sunday (11 November) at the Arch of Remembrance in Victoria Park.

It was the people of Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland coming together in the aftermath of the War which led to the foundation of the University. On the day of Armistice in 1918, local physician Dr Astley Clarke donated £100 to create the "Leicester University Fund". In the three years that followed, many other local people donated to the cause in honour of those who had made sacrifices during the War.

The Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland University College – now the University of Leicester – opened in 1921 as a living memorial. The University’s motto Ut vitam habeant - 'so that they may have life', stands as a permanent reminder of these beginnings.

President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Paul Boyle CBE, said: "As we commemorate Armistice Day, members of our University community will lay poppy wreaths at 300 memorial sites across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland over the next three years. This pilgrimage will pay tribute to the sacrifices made by the local people of Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland. It will also be a fitting tribute to the unique beginning of our University."

Eleven further wreaths will be laid throughout the day by current University of Leicester students who are receiving financial support for their studies as part of the University’s Centenary Scholarship programme. Eleven students were selected to represent the University’s first ever intake of 11.

They will lay wreaths at the following sites:

  • Main entrance, Fielding Johnson Building, University of Leicester
  • Memorial, Wyggeston and Queen Elizabeth College
  • Memorial, Welford Road Cemetery
  • St John’s Church, Clarendon Park Road
  • Brice Memorial Hall, Queens Road
  • Clarendon Park Congregational Church, Springfield Road
  • Seventh Adventist Church, corner of University Road and London Road
  • St James the Greater Church, London Road
  • Freemasons Hall, Devonshire Place, London Road
  • St Geroge’s Churchyard, opposite Curve Theatre
  • Leicester Cathedral

Jennevive Cuyugan, a Centenary Scholar and first year Medicine student who will be laying a wreath added: "In memory of those who made sacrifices during the World War One and to the families who donated to the founding of the University, I am truly honoured to be part of the Poppy Wreath Pilgrimage. My acceptance at the University of Leicester and any achievements forthwith are made all the more meaningful because of their legacy. We will continue to remember them.”

Find out more about the University of Leicester’s centenary.