EXETER CHIEFS AND ENGLAND RUGBY SUPERSTAR JACK NOWELL was among 250 guests at a special centenary dinner in aid of a project to remember 19,240 Allied servicemen who lost their lives on the first day of the Battle of the Somme at Sandy Park.
It was an emotional and poignant evening and one where the rugby star discovered his Great Great Uncle Francis Nowell was among those tragically killed on that day.
This year marks 100 years since the bloodiest day in British military history and the 19240 Shrouds of the Somme project aims to bring into sharp focus the true reality, loss and sacrifice of every individual who died on the 1st of July 1916.
Artist Rob Heard has been hand crafting thousands of shroud-covered miniature figurines – each representing the exact number of soldiers killed.
Once complete the mass of figures will be laid out side-by-side in a thought-provoking vision at the Northernhay Gardens in Exeter and in time for Armed Forces Day.
During the gala dinner event Her Majesty’s Band of the Royal Marines performed a spectacular Beating of the Retreat on the pitch for guests seated in the main stand.
Paul Martin of BBC’s Flog It! fame auctioned off some incredible items, including the very first shrouded figure, number 00001 which was sold for £1,000. By the end of the night more than £14,000 was raised for the 19240 Shrouds of the Somme project.