December 20 2014 Latest news:
Thursday, February 13, 2014
Campaigners who have raised funds for a fitting tribute to an Ipswich First World War hero are celebrating after a memorial tree was planted just yards away from his grave site.
It was Victoria Cross recipient Private Samuel Harvey’s tale of heroism and tragedy which struck a chord with residents at Park View Care Home, in Ipswich, and convinced them to launch the campaign.
Pte Harvey was awarded the VC for his work fetching grenades under enemy fire during the Battle of Loos in 1915, during which he received a non-fatal gunshot wound to the head.
When the war ended, Pte Harvey received little help and was regularly seen sleeping rough – when he died in 1960, he had a pauper’s funeral.
But on Thursday, a crabapple tree was planted just yards away from Pte Harvey’s grave – the result of months of fundraising.
A new tablet was also placed next to his grave, which has been spruced up at cost by Hunnaball, as well as Pte Harvey’s wife’s grave marker.
A tree was also planted at Sprites Primary School, which contributed about £600 to the fundraising.
Vicky Hobden, a resident of the home who thought of the initial idea to raise funds, said: “I’m pleased with how it has all come together. It is an experience I have never had before and I think it is very nice how it has all gone off.”
Ipswich Mayor Hamil Clarke, who planted the tree at Ipswich Old Cemetery, added: “I was proud to be a part of the ceremony.”
Mandy Dennington, activities co-ordinator at the home, said: “This has been the perfect conclusion.”
Also at the ceremony was Maureen Alcock, Pte Harvey’s great niece.
She said she only remembered him over the last few years of his life and said she and her mum would visit him.
“He had an accident and we used to take him over to the public house (when he was at the Salvation Army hostel in Fore Street), and that was my first recollection of Great Uncle Sam really.”
“He was special.”
When asked about the planting of the tree, Maureen, who was also representing Pte Harvey’s niece, Edna Elvin, who wasn’t able to make the ceremony, said: “I thought it was fantastic. We had it in 2000 when they dedicated the first headstone and it will never be forgotten now.”
The campaigners were also celebrating another victory on Thursday, as it emerged a memorial paving stone for Pte Harvey will be placed in Ipswich.
All First World War VC winners will have one but Pte Harvey’s was going to be placed in Nottingham, where he was born, even though he spent most of his life in Ipswich.
But a borough council spokesman said yesterday: “The council will cover the cost of a special paving stone in Ipswich for Pte Harvey in recognition of his Victoria Cross. There will also be a stone laid for Arthur Saunders VC to mark their contribution to the First World War.”