We have witnessed an extraordinary response to the Shrouds in London, with many visitors crying or leaving crosses, poppies and photographs of the fallen. The display has brought family members together and also educated children who had not heard of the battle or the losses of the Great War prior to their visit. Our volunteers have done an amazing job of chatting to visitors and Rob and Jake have been on hand to meet people and talk to them about their personal connections and reactions to this unique artwork.
Here are just a few of the responses, photographs and comments that we have had from visitors to the Shrouds that we wanted to share with you:
“I was up at the service this morning with my father in law and was so privileged to meet you. We had a chat at the fence around 8.30am. I was so touched watching you scan over the shrouds after our chat, your commitment and sincerity just shone through, you and your family must have been so proud today, you are a true genuine gentleman and I would like to thank you for my experience today and sharing your work with the world, I know you get everything out of your work but I would like to give you something back as a thank you. i took these pictures this morning and hopefully you will enjoy as a memory to keep. i can’t wait for my Shroud to arrive and will treasure it as i do my commemorative poppy from 2014. Once again thank you. I and millions of others appreciate your hard work.”
“I was privileged to be at the November 7 launch, and seeing all the shrouds in the dark was particularly moving. The shrouds were not being taken in for the night, and nor were the soldiers on the battlefield. When night fell on the battlefield, no-one came to take care of the mortally wounded or to recover the dead, they were all alone in the darkness. We will remember them.”
Claire Nicholson (Mother of Sally Nicholson who laid the last Shroud)
” ‘Thank-you’ seems inadequate to express my heartfelt gratitude and respect for the hard work, commitment and drive to create this unique act of remembrance for those who fell and we’re lost. Bless you Rob, I have never been so moved by a work of art in the way that I was today, bless you.”
“Thank you for your incredible work Mr Heard. Our running group was honoured to see your work and bring donor to the many British lives lost and the sacrifice so many gave. For me, an American expat now living in London, your memorial represents the honour and dignity those who serve their nations give. We live in difficult times yet need to remember that people like you can provide inspiration and respect. WWI had impact on lives in the early 1900’s and still does today. Thank you for making impact, for your perseverance, for your strength and resolve to help yourself and bring honour and respect to those who served. Your work is powerful and meaningful. The photo is a portion of our running group who ran 8.4 miles from St Johns Wood to come see your work today. Thank you for the humbling and gratifying experience today. You are an inspiration.
We are also grateful to the volunteers who made this memorial possible. Special thanks to the volunteer who pointed out Mr Heard to us so we could shake his hand. The volunteers truly made our day.
Marissa O’Malia and friends (pictured below)
You can look at a number and think “Jesus that’s a lot”, in this case you see a figure of 72,396, this represents allied solders who died on the some but have no known grave, that’s an immense number from just one battlefield but when you see 72,396 of these small shrouds all lined up and the area it covers you only then begin to realise the sheer size and scale of the horror that unfolded 100 years ago. It is hard hitting when you stand there and realise each shroud represents a life that was cut short by warfare. I’ve seen the poppies round the tower in 2014, the lights over the past week at the same venue and the weeping window at the Imperial War Museum but this is more to the point and all the crosses that are there showing British losses on a day by day basis is mind blowing. If you have any spare time i would recommend that you try to visit these shrouds, its something you’ll never forget and to top it all off there was the haunting voice of the lady who was ready every name of those missing in action in alphabetical order, name, rank, age, regiment, date of death. As you walk around the edge of the shrouds. I have a great uncle whose name I found on the endless lists of names which are on display there, so I had added interest in being there but you don’t need a reason to pay your respects to the dead and the time and effort put in to this display by Rob Heard.
Jimmy Whitaker via Facebook
And finally here are some photos taken on the first day of opening by our volunteer Ken who also brought his grandfathers war medals to show the school children.
The date 23rd May1916 in our Lost Lives Exhibition are particularly poignant for Ken:
“This was the date that William Davis (21st Bn, London Regt) was killed at Vimy Ridge, leaving a wife, Edith; and three children – William, Thomas and Edith. It was really moving to think that this in some way honoured a soldier who just disappeared and was never found. His wife later became the partner of my grandfather who also served through the entire war.”
Thank you to everyone who has taken the time visit the Shrouds and contact us or comment on social media. Your kind words really mean a lot to our small core team and the volunteers and partners who have helped Rob to turn his vision into a reality.