Meet the woman painting a rock to commemorate every Seaton soldier

PUBLISHED: 14:30 25 October 2018

Seaton-based rock painter Julie Barrett, with her assistance dog, Elgin. Photo: Julie Barrett

Seaton-based rock painter Julie Barrett, with her assistance dog, Elgin. Photo: Julie Barrett

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A Seaton woman has embarked on a task of commemorating Seaton’s war heroes by painting a poignant collection of rocks.

Julie Barrett's collection of commemorative painted rocks. Photo: Julie BarrettJulie Barrett's collection of commemorative painted rocks. Photo: Julie Barrett

Julie Barrett, who moved to the town from Beer in August, believes Seaton’s troops from World War One and Two deservs to be remembered – so is painting a rock for every one.

The venture is made more difficult for Julie, of Mead Way, as she lives with numerous disabilities which cause her joints to dislocate easily, and suffers from seizures and severe muscle spasms.

Despite her illness, Julie has completed 33 rocks so far, and has no intention of stopping until every soldier is commemorated.

She said: “I belong to several rock painting groups on Facebook, and saw posts about other people doing ‘poppy drops’ in their towns.

“I thought that Seaton’s fallen heroes deserved to be remembered in this way too and decided to try and paint a rock for every one of these heroes.

“Each rock has the name on the back of it, along with the year of their death and the age they were when they died, if this is known.

“So many of these men were in their late teens or early twenties, and many families lost more than one family member in the wars.

“It’s very interesting reading about these war heroes, but it’s also heartbreaking.

“I initially was just going to paint rocks for the names on the war memorial from World War One, but I have just completed those today so I’m now working on rocks for the men from Seaton who were lost during World War Two.”

In total, Julie will paint 62 rocks, remembering 33 troops from WW1 and 29 from WW2.

When she has finished her collection, Julie intends to place the rocks around Seaton’s War Memorial – an idea supported by the town’s Royal British Legion branch.

Julie got into rock painting when a family member found a painted rock in April.

She added: “It got me thinking about painting some myself. I do struggle holding pens and paintbrushes as my grip is very poor and I get bad tremors in my hands, but I do the best I can.

“I am often housebound or bedbound, so I get very down, but painting rocks is very therapeutic for me.”

Julie belongs to the Facebook group ‘Seaton Devon Rocks’, which encourages people to hide, and find, painted rocks in and around the town.

She said: “The rocks have a message on the back that asks the finder to post a picture of the rock on our Facebook group ‘Seaton Devon Rocks’.

“They can then either keep the rock or hide it elsewhere for someone else to find.

“It’s great fun for both children and adults, I enjoy decorating the rocks and seeing people’s smiling faces when they find one. We’d love more people to join our group and get rock painting!”

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