Thoughtful pupils’ poppy is tribute to hero soldier

Neve Laycock (centre), who is the great-great niece of the WW1 veteran who received a clay poppy from the school
Neve Laycock (centre), who is the great-great niece of the WW1 veteran who received a clay poppy from the school

PRIMARY school pupils have surprised the granddaughter of a First World War hero with a replica poppy, after hearing that she was unable to get one from the poppy exhibition at the Tower of London.

Veronica Ashton, 80, said she was “amazed” at the lovely thought of pupils from Holy Family, New Springs, when they donated a poppy in memory of her grandad.

Children from Holy Family Primary School, New Springs, had learnt about how Thomas Woodcock was awarded the Victoria’s Cross in 1917, the highest military decoration, after risking his life to save a fellow soldier.

Woodcock, from Belvoir Street, Scholes, received a hero’s welcome on his return to Wigan and decided to return to the front, where he was killed in action in Bullecort, France in 1918 just months before armistice.

Julie McDonald, Holy Family’s headmistress, said the children loved learning about Thomas Woodcock and discovering all about Wigan’s heroes.

The pupils had created the poppies inspired by the Tower of London’s exhibition for fallen soldiers, and when they found out that the war hero’s grandaughter they decided to send her one in its place.

Mrs McDonald said: “The children planted the poppies at the end of our Remembrance Day service and we had spent a whole term learning about the First World War. It was a lovely culmination for the children to send one of the poppies to Mrs Ashton in memory of her grandfather.”

Mrs Ashton said: “I’m thrilled and keep the poppy where I can see it everyday.”

The Wigan grandmother had tried to buy one of the poppies, but worldwide demand for the 888,246 poppies, meant she was unable to get hold of one.

“I would like to thank them for being so thoughtful”.

Wigan Council announced last year that they would be honouring the war hero by naming a street after him, along with the three fellow Victoria Cross recipients from Wigan borough over the next four years.