Final poppy wreaths to be laid as University of Leicester honours region’s wartime sacrifices

The laying of eighteen poppy wreaths at war memorials across the region will mark the culmination of the University of Leicester’s mission to lay 100 poppy wreaths to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.

The University’s Poppy Pilgrimage sees students, staff, local people and both serving and retired members of the Armed Forces laying 100 poppy wreaths across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland in recognition of the local people who made sacrifices during the First World War. First pledged in 2018 at the dedication of the University’s Centenary Square by University patrons Sir David Attenborough and Michael Attenborough CBE, it honours the University’s foundation as a living memorial.

Since 2018, 82 poppy wreaths have been laid at memorial sites across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland, and this year the University of Leicester hopes to complete its Poppy Pilgrimage by visiting the final 18 sites.

Professor Nishan Canagarajah, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leicester, said: “We all owe an enormous debt of gratitude to those who made sacrifices for the benefit of our future. This University is a testament to that spirit of sacrifice and our poppy pilgrimage provides occasion to remember, reflect and honour all those who played their part in the First World War. It is fitting that as we close our Centenary Year and begin our second century, we pay tribute to those that have gone before and upon whose sacrifices our foundations are built.”

It was the people of Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland coming together in the aftermath of the War that led to the foundation of the University of Leicester. 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.

Frazer Stark is Armed Forces Champion at the University of Leicester, and will be among those laying the final poppy wreaths. He said: “The Act of Remembrance is there to unite people of all faiths, cultures and backgrounds in a hope for a peaceful future. The University of Leicester’s commitment to the Poppy Pilgrimage has displayed the institution as a leader in the Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland area in honouring those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our way of life. 

“I’ve served in the Armed Forces for 16 years and I am now proud to serve a university that is wholly committed to bringing the wider community together in this common cause.”

The University’s long-standing association with the Armed Forces are enshrined in the Armed Forces Covenant, which states that veterans should face no disadvantage compared to other citizens in the provision of public and commercial services.

In 2020 the University was awarded Gold Award status by the Ministry of Defence for its support of the Armed Forces community, which includes partnerships with local Reserve units and permanent membership of the Armed Forces Covenant LLR Civil and Military Partnership Board and East Midlands Universities Combined Military Education Committee.

The University is also committed to supporting former service personnel in their transition to civilian life through schemes like the Armed Forces into Allied Health project, which simplifies the process for veterans to transfer military qualifications in order to enter health disciplines and the guaranteed interview scheme for those leaving the Armed Forces wishing to apply for any job in the university.

The final eighteen poppy wreaths are to be laid at:

  • Monday 31 October - Coalville Memorial Clock Tower, LE67 3ET
  • Tuesday 1 November - All Saints' Church, Highcross Street, Leicester, LE1 4PH 
  • Thursday 3 November - St Catherine's Church, LE10 2DE
  • Thursday 3 November - St Peter's Church, LE10 3AW
  • Friday 4 November - St Thomas of Canterbury Church, Frisby on the Wreake, LE14 2NQ
  • Friday 4 November - St Michael and All Angels Church, Thorpe Satchville, LE14 2DF
  • Friday 4 November - Village Green, Church Lane, Hemington, DE74 2RU
  • Friday 4 November - Castle Donington War memorial, High Street. Castle Donington, DE74 2PP
  • Saturday 5 November - Heathcote Arms (previously British Legion), LE9 3EG
  • Monday 7 November - St Andrew's Churchyard, Countesthorpe, LE8 5QX
  • Monday 7 November - St Bartholomew's Foston, LE8 5WQ
  • Monday 7 November - Countesthorpe Cemetery, Foston Road, LE8 5QP
  • Monday 7 November - Northfields Park, Leicester Road, Blaby, LE8 4GQ
  • Monday 7 November - All Saints' with Holy Trinity Church, Steeple Row, Loughborough, LE11 1UX
  • Tuesday 8 November - St Andrew's Church, Main Street, Whissendine, Rutland, LE15 7ET
  • Tuesday 8 November - Holy Trinity Church, Main Street, Teigh, Rutland, LE15 7RT
  • Tuesday 8 November - St Peter and St Paul's Church, Teigh Road, Market Overton, Rutland, LE15 7PW
  • Wednesday 9 November - Leicester Racecourse, Oadby, LE2 4AL
  • Friday 11 November - University of Leicester, Fielding Johnson Building, LE1 7RH

Further information on the Poppy Pilgrimage