Property developer Ricky Sharma faced the project of a lifetime when a friend of the family called him out of the blue.
Businessman and philanthropist Dr Jan Telensky asked him to build a ‘shining’ memorial to Britain’s war dead based on a winning design by a young family.
Ricky, from Camberley in Surrey, said: “Jan has been a friend of the family for a long time and I know what he’s like – but it was a bit of a shock when he asked me to take on this latest building project.”
Mum Maura Gillespie, of Potten End, near Hemel Hemstead, with help from children Zak and Zara, produced a design for a mosaic of a poppy. It was chosen as the winning entry in a competition arranged by MP Mike Penning and the Royal British Legion.
In her submission she said: “A ceramic poppy would look bright on a grey November Remembrance Day and it would be a shining reminder all year.”
Ricky, aged 32, said: “It was a bit tricky and took me nearly two months to complete. It’s heavy, made out of Portland stone with specially designed ceramic tiles as mosaics. I had to keep as close to the family’s design as possible, but it was definitely worth doing.”
The unique memorial, which is more than four feet tall, has been erected near the ‘rainbow’ memorial garden in Hemel Hempstead’s Marlowes.
Mike Penning said: “The competition had a terrific response and we were inundated with entries and so many were of an incredibly high standard. I thank everyone who took the time to take part and I hope everyone will be happy with the result.”
Chairman of the Hemel Hempstead branch of the British Legion Peter Gibbons said: “It is a very striking design and immediately caught the attention of everyone who saw it.”
Dr Telensky organises free holidays through the MoD for British soldiers injured on active duty at his hotel, AquaCity, in Poprad next to the foot of the High Tatras Mountains in Slovakia.