A CASCADE of a million poppy petals stunned Trafford Centre staff and customers at an event commemorating the centenary of the First World War.

The centre's Main Dome was filled with a 'red rain' of poppy petals, which represented the millions of people who lost their lives in the conflict.

The Mayor of Trafford, cadets, former soldiers, staff and customers were present at the ceremony.

Vivaldi’s 'Spring”'was played, before a trumpeter sounded The Last Post – which signalled the start of a three minute display as hidden cannons at the top of the dome pumped the paper petals onto the crowds below.

Richard Paxton, managing director, said: “The time came to decide what we could do to mark such an important anniversary.

“We’ve worked with local schools to plant thousands of poppies all around the centre, and we’ve teamed up with the Royal British Legion to help support their fund-raising drive at this most important time.

“But we also wanted to create something really special that we could all share, which would be our contribution, our way of remembering the fallen men and women of the war, and our way of holding a poignant and thought-provoking event for our staff and customers to look back on in future years.

“The thought behind the poppy cascade is to take the iconic flower that blossomed in the churned up battlefields of Europe, and look at it anew, try to see the poppy symbol in another way.

"So our team decided to create a mind-blowing poppy cascade of a million petals – one petal for every soldier lost to the British Empire in the Great War."

Ex-serviceman Alan Breckenridge, 74, who is now a member of staff at the centre, recited Siegfried Sassoon’s 'Does It Matter?'

And the Revd Charles Butler MBE, deputy assistant chaplain general at Preston barracks, lead the congregation in a prayer, and read poetry from war poet, Wilfred Owen.

Shopper Julie Host, from Carlisle, watched the poppy cascade, and said: “I had no idea what to expect, but the music started and suddenly this massive space was absolutely filled with fluttering poppy petals – it was breath-taking, and I saw more than a few tears from the staff and other customers as we watched.”