Three years ago, Rob Heard was feeling really low while recovering from an accident. Watching soldiers returning from Afghanistan on TV, led to him thinking about the loss of lives in wartime and the incredible numbers involved. He found it impossible to imagine the 19,240 men who died in just one day, July 1st 1916, at the battle of the Somme.
From a list of the names of every one of the 19240, he created a hand stitched shroud containing a 12 inch figure, crossing off names as he went. Rob didn’t have a plan when he began the project, but a friend, Steve Knightly a musician from the band Show of Hands, contacted the city council, the Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Exeter Chiefs rugby foundation. This has become the UK’s largest WW1 commemoration and has featured in the national news this week.
If you’re in the area, the 19240 Shrouds of the Somme can be seen at Northernhay Gardens, Exeter until July 7th. I’d recommend it, it’s a highly emotional commemoration to a part of history that must never be repeated.