Poppy Appeal gets underway

Poppy appeal

The symbol of remembrance has been given a makeover as Poppyscotland marks 100 years since the end of the First World War

28th September 2018 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

Poppies are starting to make their way across the country as the Poppy Appeal marks 100 years since the end of the First World War.

Lady Haig’s Poppy Factory in Edinburgh was alive with activity yesterday (Thursday 27 September) as the near-five million poppies which are all made by hand by former service personnel were loaded on to trucks to begin the journey to the four corners of the country ahead of the start of the 2018 Scottish Poppy Appeal.

This year’s event – which is known as the National Uplift – was especially poignant as it marks the first time the public will get a chance to see the newly commissioned Centenary Poppy, which has the text 1918-2018 embossed in gold across the traditional and iconic red paper poppy.

It is the first change to the poppy in decades and is of part of Poppyscotland’s programme of activity to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War.

Forty-one veterans with disabilities are employed at the factory making around five million poppies each year, and, this year, around two million of them will be Centenary Poppies.

Charlie Pelling, manager at Lady Haig’s Poppy Factory, said: “The National Uplift is always one of the biggest days of the year at the factory, but it’s especially poignant in 2018 given that we are commemorating the centenary of the end of the First World War with this stunning, unique poppy design.”

The Centenary Poppy is the single biggest design change of the poppy for more than a generation. The poppy has not altered much conceptually since its inception more than 90 years ago when it was created by Lady Haig – wife of Field Marshall Earl Haig – in 1926.

Pelling, a veteran himself, added: “At its peak the factory employed more than 100 veterans, and, in total, we have employed closed to 2,000 ex-servicemen and women over the years, the vast majority of whom suffered from some sort of life-limiting disability. The Factory has and continues to provide a safe and supportive environment and it’s heartening to know that the lives of so many veterans have been transformed by their employment here.”

One such veteran is poppy-maker and Factory tour guide Thomas McPhillips. The 73-year-old served as a Lance Corporal in the Royal Signals, having joined up at the age of 18, and has worked at the factory for almost 15 years.

He said: “Working at Lady Haig’s Poppy Factory means everything to me. It is such a deep thing and the camaraderie here is fantastic. New guys come in and they get that straight away. The hairs on the back of their necks prick up.

“It’s not just a job; it’s being part of a family. And beyond the job, the factory has allowed so many veterans like me to rebuild lives after our time in the Armed Forces. It’s something to think about when you’re putting your pound in the tin and sticking your poppy on.”