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Chaos to beauty

beauty from chaos - flower festival remembrance

Professional Floral Designers and teachers, Mo Duffill and Anne Cherry, have interpreted the human effects of conflicts the world over on our armed forces and those connected with them using flowers, foliage and artefacts in this stunning Flower Festival Remembrance in aid of SSAFA and St Mary’s Church from August 9th - 12th.

There has not been a flower festival in Beverley for several years. The 100th anniversary of the ending of WW1, the 100th anniversary of the founding of the RAF, the 100th anniversary of Votes for Women and the opportunity which Beverley has to win the RHS Britain in Bloom Best Town in Britain accolade led many to moot the idea of a festival to celebrate all of these events whilst raising much-needed funds for SSAFA (the Soldier, Sailors and Air Force Association), the Armed Forces’ Charity and for St Mary’s Church, was greeted with enthusiasm. But who to ask to design the display with up to 60 arrangements in such a large and challenging space? Step up, Mo and Anne!

Mo and Anne both studied for their City and Guilds Certificates in Floral Art at Bishop Burton College at separate times but met at Beverley Flower Club which is a member of NAFAS (the National Association of Flower Arrangement Societies). They have designed the content for the entire church, from entry through the nave and chancel to ambulatory. They have, through NAFAS and other flower clubs, recruited around 100 other floral artists to help them make the displays and put in place other artistic content, such as wall art. They have also secured the help of ‘gophers’ to fetch and carry and lenders of equipment, uniforms, flags and other sundries. 

Everyone involved is giving their time voluntarily; although the flowers are being purchased, and that is the main expense, much of the foliage is being donated from local gardens! Mo and Anne already have vast experience of working in such imposing spaces. Westminster Abbey, Kensington Palace, Castle Howard, Harewood House, Beverley and Hull Minsters as well as local houses such as Sledmere and Burton Constable have been graced with their arrangements. Mo tells the story of the time SSAFA invited her to provide floral designs for a function at the Waldorf Hotel in London attended by the Duchess of Cornwall who asked her lots of questions about arranging flowers and where she got her ideas! The title of the festival ‘Beauty from Chaos’ ensures the horrors of war are not the main focus.

Anne said: “The last thing we wanted was a church full of doom and gloom. Good did come out of the chaos - community spirit, for example. Although some of the more negative characteristics have been difficult to depict, we aren’t ignoring them. Nazi Germany, Japan, Iraq, the Falklands Islands conflict are all wars where SSAFA have helped Armed Forces personnel and their families. But we are also recognizing the impact on people at home and abroad with local as well as national and international aspects represented. Beverley shipyard, Leconfield airfield, Beverley Church Lads and Girls Brigade, SSAFA nursing, the Home Guard, ‘Dig for Victory’ and ‘Make do and Mend’ are all there - and the Blitz which killed so many people locally.” Mo and Anne both consider being invited to get involved in this prestigious event is an honour. There have been many meetings to ensure the Festival, which opens with a preview evening on August 8th and then runs from August 9th - 12th 10am - 4pm daily, is a success.

Programmes to guide visitors around the displays, appropriate music playing and poetry readings every day at 11am, 12noon, 2pm and 3pm will enhance the experience. Refreshments, charity stalls and other facilities will be available in St Mary’s Parish Hall. Although the Festival will evoke memories for many adult visitors, it would be lovely to see children there, too. Our Armed Forces continue to be deployed in many countries in a variety of roles and the need for support, mental and physical, from SSAFA remains crucial, as does the pastoral care and prayers of the Church hosting the Festival, which will also benefit from the proceeds. Tickets for the preview evening are £15 available in advance from


Tickets for the Festival are priced at £8/£5/£1/free (depending on age) and are available on the door or from Beverley Tourist Information.


Mo and Anne.PNG

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