With plans well advanced for next November’s Wilfred Owen Festival in Oswestry which will commemorate the centenary of the poets death and the centenary of Armistice Day with a wide ranging series of events including musical performances, drama, poetry, lectures, exhibitions and much more, festival co-ordinator Chris Woods and sculptor Tim Turner paid their respects with a recent visit to France.
Every year the small French community of Ors come together on the 4th of November along with visitors from across the globe to honour and remember the death of arguably the greatest ever war poet, Oswestry born Wilfred Owen who was killed in an offensive on the banks of the Sambre-Oise canal just one week before the signing of the Armistice. This year the, 99th anniversary saw hundreds gather in the rain in this small village in northern France to participate in their commemoration which included a traditional evening parade led by pipers from the village square to the cemetery where Owen is buried. A short memorial service was then held with nephew Peter Owen reading the address and which included two of Owen’s poems. Following on from this all visitors were welcomed by the Mayor Mr Duminy back at the village community centre before a recital in the village church.
Chris Woods said of the event “It is quite amazing the support shown in France for this annual event and the work of both the French and British Wilfred Owen Association’s in ensuring that his legacy lives on. I hope that our event next year will be as successful and further add to Owen’s reputation as one of the greatest war poets. With the festival and the unveiling of the bronze statue of Owen Oswestry has a unique opportunity and one which I am confident will enhance our wonderful town bringing visitors from far and wide”
Local artist and sculptor Tim Turner has been commissioned by Oswestry Town Council to produce a life size bronze statue of Owen to be sited in the town’s Cae Glas Park and whilst in Ors they were able to update Peter Owen, on its progress and extend an invitation to him and the Mayor of Ors to visit Oswestry in August next year to view the sculpture and visit the Castle Fine Arts Foundry in Llanrhaeadr where it will be cast.
On the meeting with Peter Owen, Tim said “It was really good to speak to Peter and members of the Wilfred Owen Association who are very much looking forward to seeing the finished article. As an artist and an Oswestrian I am very proud to be asked to create a bronze to honour the memory of arguably our greatest ever poet”