The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

A Touch of Seacroft: A Unique Tribute on Remembrance Day

17 November 2023

In a poignant tribute to his Great Grand Uncle, Thomas Edwin Bulmer, dedicated genealogist Andy Cundell embarked on a heartfelt journey to honour his Great Grand Uncle Thomas, born in October 1877, who served as a groundskeeper and handyman at Seacroft Hospital.

Through researching his family tree, Andy had found out that Thomas enlisted in the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) on September 2, 1915, during World War I. Serving in the 74th Field Ambulance near Bernafay Wood, Thomas sadly passed on August 21, 1916, when an enemy mortar struck the evacuation dugout where he was stationed.

Inspired by his own military service in the Royal Navy Submarine Service for 26 years, Andy felt compelled to pay his respects at Thomas's grave in France. Following his visit, Andy was determined to bring "a little bit of Seacroft" to the final resting place and approached Leeds Teaching Hospitals for support.

Heart 1

The Trust were delighted to support the request and a box of Seacroft Hospital soil was sent to Andy in Plymouth, where he transformed it into a resin heart, as EU regulations mean you can no longer transport soil.

On Remembrance Day, Andy made the journey to France once again, despite challenging weather conditions. Andy recalls, "When we arrived, the weather was horrendous... then out of nowhere, the rain just stopped – the black and grey clouds disappeared with the sky changing to blue with the sun shining down on us." 

In a touching moment, Andy met fellow visitors at the gravesite who were astonished by the gesture. "They were astounded that the staff of Seacroft Hospital had gone out and dug ‘a little bit of Yorkshire,’ and we had enshrined some in resin," Andy shared.

As the sun broke through the clouds, Andy played the Last Post and Rouse on a large speaker, a wonderful tribute to his Great Grand Uncle.