Ceremony for memorial of Shropshire poet Wilfred Owen

A ceremony has been held on the anniversary of the death of Shropshire's Great War poet Wilfred Owen to mark the completion of work to restore a memorial in his honour.

Helen McPhail, the Rev Dr Tom Atfield, and Caroline Thewles, who laid a spray of silk poppies
Helen McPhail, the Rev Dr Tom Atfield, and Caroline Thewles, who laid a spray of silk poppies

A service was conducted at Shrewsbury Abbey by the Rev Dr Tom Atfield, vicar of the parish of Holy Cross, the congregation afterwards moving outside for a ceremony at the memorial in the abbey grounds, and the laying of silk poppies.

Dr Atfield led about 30 people in the regular midweek service which was focussed on Owen’s writing, with extracts from his poems, the preface to their publication, and his final letter home.

Outside he read Owen’s poem "Strange Meeting," from which a line is engraved on the side of the memorial: "I am the enemy you killed, my friend."

Helen McPhail, a founder member of the Wilfred Owen Association, at the ceremony.

Helen McPhail, former chair of the Wilfred Owen Association, reminded listeners of the original unveiling in 1993 and Caroline Thewles of the association, who led the fundraising effort, laid a spray of silk poppies on behalf of the Owen family and the association.

Called Symmetry, after showing the effects of ageing and weathering the memorial has been spruced up following an appeal by the Wilfred Owen Association.

It was commissioned to celebrate the centenary of the poet's birth and was inaugurated in June 1993. Designed by Paul de Monchaux, the pale granite abstract structure has the dual function of a bench.

The ceremony was held on the 102nd anniversary of Wilfred Owen's death.

Owen, who was born in Oswestry, later lived in Shrewsbury, the family home being not far from the abbey, in Monkmoor Road. He was killed in action just one week before the end of the Great War, on November 4, 1918.

Restoration cost around £6,500 and benefited from a donation from environmental services company Veolia, as well as contributions from, among others, the family of Peter Owen (nephew of the poet), and Paul de Monchaux, the sculptor, and association members.

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