A colourful floral tribute to the ‘Haughton Boys’ is set to bloom as residents join forces to remember the local men who lost their lives in the First World War.

To mark the centenary of the end of the war in November, flowers in patriotic colours of red, white and blue are to be planted in new flowerbeds surrounding the Haughton-le-Skerne War Memorial, which was erected in 1920 to honour the men from Haughton, Barmpton and Great Burdon who lost their lives.

The idea was originally suggested by Carol Atkinson, of the Haughton-le-Skerne Local History Society, and soon won support from local residents and others including Haughton and Springfield Ward councillors Chris McEwan and Nick Wallis, Darlington Borough Council and Darlington Cares.

The flowers will be planted on three sides of the memorial, close to the Church of St Andrew, with the area facing Haughton Road in the shape of a Union Jack.

Meticulous and painstaking work has already been carried out by Ernie Newton and Kevin Donegan, to clean and repair two of three large poppy motifs, on the grassed area surrounding the memorial – the third is to be removed due to wear and tear. The flagstones around the memorial are also in the process of being re-pointed.

Work to dig out the new flowerbeds will be carried out at the end of May, with planting to follow in June by volunteers with guidance from Mark Riddle, James Ivil and Nicola Wood, of Darlington Borough Council, who have neem extremely helpful and supportive. The plants will be replaced prior to Remembrance Sunday by winter pansies, also in patriotic colours.

In time for Remembrance Sunday, volunteers will tidy up the family plots within St Andrew’s Churchyard, on which some of those who lost their lives are remembered. A small wooden cross will also be placed on each grave, and 32 wooden crosses – one for each man – will be placed underneath the Union Jack of flowers.

More information will soon be available about each of the ‘Haughton Boys’ as Local History Society member Neil Wastell has been researching each of the 32 names to write their stories. These, along with photographs and other information about the men, will be published on a new website, to be launched in November to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the Armistice.

Mrs Atkinson explained:

“As a community, we wanted to do something special in what is the centenary of the end of the war. In our everyday lives many of us pass the memorial frequently – when you do, please stop and think, not only of these young man, our ‘Haughton Boys’ who paid the ultimate sacrifice, but also of the survivors and their families too.”

Cllr McEwan, who is also Cabinet member for economy and regeneration at the council, added:

“This is a small gesture for the huge sacrifice that 32 local lads gave for their country. Some of these young men went to school together, played cricket together, attended church and met up for a drink together in the village pub and they also fought together, side by side, in the trenches.”

In their memory, if anyone would like to help with the preparation work on 30 May, planting of the flowerbeds on 13 June, or aftercare, please contact Cllr McEwan by email at chrismcewan1@btinternet.com