One of the newer TVBC mini-buses, with Leslie at the wheel, took us on a sunny day to Richmond, where the Poppy Factory is located. Initially we had an hour or so to look around the historic town, where the ancient centre is well preserved and delightful, although some members preferred shopping!
We met again at the factory where they provided a light lunch, & subsequently commenced the tour with a short film about the history of the poppy as an emblem of the great sacrifices made in many wars, but particularly WWI. The poppy, inspired by the famous poem ‘In Flanders Field ‘ by the Canadian John McCrae and initially used in the USA, but now confined to the UK & Commonwealth has been used since 1921.
They make about 6m poppies each year which are all sold to the British Legion, a separate organisation, who produce some 42m standard ones themselves. The factory also produces all of the poppy wreaths used on Armistice Day & the special corsages & boutonnieres worn by the Royal Family & Commonwealth guests at the Remembrance Day parade in London.
All poppies made at Richmond are still assembled by hand, providing work for disabled employees, now reduced from a peak of 180 to about 30 today. Our group had the opportunity of assembling their own standard poppies and see a demonstration of how the larger ones are put together and buy for a donation. Profits are channelled into assisting retired veterans, with a many recent grants going towards resolving combat stress related problems. Many hundreds of retired service personnel now undertake a full & active role in society as a consequence of the help given them by the Poppy Factory.
Everyone on the tour said they enjoyed the visit and our collection contributed to this fine work.