The Countdown Continues …

Yesterday at Poppy Headquarters at the East Malvern RSL, a couple of significant milestones were met with a quiet acknowledgement of “job well done”.  Not surprisingly, I am feeling like it was a bit of an understatement (chuckling to myself here) … I expect that it’s because we still have a mountain of work ahead of us between now and the end of September.

So, I thought I would just quietly share where we are at with you.

We have completed attaching poppies to 62,000 stems for the installation at the Australian War Memorial (Canberra) for our Centenary of Armistice Day commemoration. Given that the installation will be in situ for five weeks, we have decided to create an additional 20,000 stems to cover repairs and replacements. (No we don’t need any more poppies at this time).

26,500 stems planted at Fromelles, France July 2018

We have completed creating, checking, repairing and packing our “poppy strings” for the stunning backdrop for the Centenary of Armistice Concert in Launceston in November.

Poppies on Strings : Federation Square Melbourne Anzac Day 2015

And, we completed another very large and very poignant installation (yet to be unveiled) for Victoria (watch this space for details).

Back to the start : Remembrance Day 2013 Federation Square Melbourne

We have also completed our planning for another three installations that we will be creating (also yet to be unveiled), and working on initial planning for more.  Our aim is to use every single poppy that we have collected over the last 5 years in these installations (more than half a million poppies) … and while it is daunting … we are commited to the task.  It is going to be BEAUTIFUL.

So, excitement is building as we count down the weeks (13) until we launch our installation on 5 October at the Australian War Memorial, which kicks off our stunning community campaign of respect and remembrance, and it is going to be a very busy few months at Poppy Headquarters as we pull everything together.

Again, as I reflect on the nature of the task we have undertaken within and for the community at large, I am reminded that it is an incredible privilege to be doing this work in honour of our servicemen and women, their families and their communities … past, present and future.

LEST WE FORGET

 

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It’s all quiet on the Western Front …

It feels kinda weird not to be opening mountains of mail each week at PHQ these days (sometimes in excess of 5000 poppies at a sitting), now that our poppy collection is all but  complete.  And it is so quiet with everyone totally focused on the assembly stage of our AWM installation … 62,000 stems to be assembled.  And while we are well and truly oversubscribed on poppies, we are also working to ensure that everyone is represented at the AWM installation to commemorate the Centenary of the end of the Great War on Remembrance Day in November as best we can.

For the remaining poppies (and there are many) I have mentioned that we are also creating a number of additional large scale installations for Remembrance Day … the wheels are moving slowly but we will give you more news on these when we can … Suffice to say they are exciting and we are looking forward to being able to unveil our plans to you in due course.

Our motto is and always has been “no poppy left behind” so we are working hard to incorporate every single poppy into one or another of our installations.  It’s a big big task, but we think we are up to it.

So while we may be a little quiet on social media and the blog … be assured that the teams at PHQ (East Malvern RSL Vic), Mornington, Gippsland and Canberra are working away to complete our stunning installations of love, honour and respect for those who have served and sacrificed, their families and their communities.

And, just as exciting, there are many who are working on local installations for their own towns all across Australia, not to mention the many other places around the globe will be covered in a sea poppies come November.

LEST WE FORGET!

 

 

 

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Counting Down to Remembrance Day 2018 …

Well … Anzac Day came and went for us in the blink of an eye … time is moving at a pace and we are now into the final five months of creating this very special tribute for the Australian War Memorial in honour of those 62,000 brave Australian souls who fought and died in WWI.

Right back at the start of 5000 Poppies it was our wish to create something special for each tribute we have done over the last five years … moulding our vision to the site we have available. And I think we have achieved that aim.   And I must say … although you won’t have an opportunity to see it until it’s completed for our launch on 5 October … the Australian War Memorial installation will be the very best yet.  Imagine if you can … immersing yourself in the middle of a field of 62,000 beautiful poppies … knowing that every single one is filled to the brim with love, honour and respect.  It gives me goosebumps every time I think about it.

So as the countdown continues … you really need to be thinking about booking your Canberra visit to coincide with the installation which will run from 5 October through to 11 November.  It will be beautiful.

It’s hard to fathom the amount of work involved in pulling it all together … but I recently published some background on facebook … which astounded even me … and I’d like to share it here on our blog … for posterity.

Marg and I started making poppies in March 2013 as a personal project to honour our fathers’ war service in WWII.
We went public June 2013 with the 5000 Poppies Project
We officially launched in Fed Square Melbourne on Remembrance Day 2013 with exactly 5000 poppies (I think we underestimated the interest it would generate).
By December 2013 we had approx 25,000 poppies
By December 2014 we had approx 125,000 poppies
By Anzac Day 2015 we had approx 257,000 poppies for our multifaceted Fed Square installation marking the Centenary of Anzac
In May 2016 more than 300,000 poppies went to Chelsea Flower and Garden Show to visit the Queen and caught up with Dr Brendan Nelson who asked us to create an installation at the AWM for the Centenary of Armistice
We had also agreed to make 50,000 poppies for the Vic RSL for the Poppy Appeal 2018 as a “thank you” for their financial assistance in getting our project across to Europe in 2016
By February 2018 we had completed the 50,000 and were well on the way to completing our collection for AWM installation.
Today we have collected in total well over half a million poppies and spawned thousands of poppy projects all over the world
But thats not the half of it
Each poppy takes an average of 2 hours to make, sort and process, either onto nets or stems or put pins on for lapels
Thats one million hours right there
That doesn’t include the COUNTLESS hours of icord making, stem stuffing and gooping, checking, rechecking, repairing, reworking, installing, deinstalling, transporting and the myriad of other tasks that go into a project of this magnitude
All just stats, but impressive nonetheless.

And the reason I find all this most impressive … ALL of this work has been done by thousands of volunteers all over the world … our volunteers pay for their own materials and postage … and have shared yarn with their crafty brothers and sisters when red yarn was in short supply for a while across the nation, and they have formed satellite groups … new communities and new friendships … all out of working towards a common purpose … I just LOVE that.

But there is the other, underlying and ultimately more important thing about this project …. and that is that it shows the DEPTH and BREADTH of gratitude, and of love, honour and respect that our nation holds for our veterans past, present and future. LEST WE FORGET indeed!

So we are now winding down our poppy collection and are concentrating on the assembly of poppies for the AWM installation … and all of the other activities related to the staging of a unique event of this nature, as well as a number of other major installations happening around the country.

For the moment though, the 62,000 poppies on stems is our major focus.  It is a BIG commitment and it takes a huge village to create something of this magnitude.  And there are many people to thank (which will take forever).  So today I start with those teams who have taken up the gauntlet and re-established themselves to “get the job done” for this massive installation.

Not in any particular order … our Canberra team … formed when we originally announced our involvement with the AWM … so a fairly new “team” although a number of team members have been involved with the project from right back in 2013 when we started.  I am sure they had no idea of the magnitude of the task when they took it on but have been amazing in their ability to step up each time the task grew to a whole new level.  So congratulations to Ledy Rowe and her magnificent team of poppy makers for their contribution.  And a huge vote of thanks to Poppy’s Cafe at the War Memorial for allowing us the use of their space several times a month for our poppy making escapades.

The Mornington Peninsula group have been with us from the start back in 2013 in various guises, and have been working out of the Mornington Library for some time now.  Led by Carol Copp and assisted by Judi McKinna, the MP group have been amazing contributors, both of poppies and of completed stems for all of our installations over the last five years and have been involved in many of our larger installs.  It’s been humbling to have these ladies and gents working with us and “showing up” when we needed help.

The Mooroolbark/Kilsyth team led by Anne Bryan have been meeting weekly for a long time at Allan’s Bakery and Cafe in Kilsyth.  For a small team, their output has been amazing and they have engaged the local community beautifully. So a huge thank you to the team at Allan’s Bakery for their contribution and to the staff at Allan’s Bakery for their commitment.

Our Gippsland team led by Nadine Greenaway for the last couple of years, and Pauline Jephcott prior to that.  They have again, been with us almost from the start, and a large part of our i-cording for the stemmed poppies has come through Nadine, not to mention the thousands and thousands of poppies they have made, and the stems they have stuffed and neatened. It’s truly mind boggling.

Again, as I am typing this, my mind wanders back to the sheer volume of work that these teams do on our behalf week in … week out.  It is phenomenal.

There are also our Morris and Sons and Granny Squares groups run by Susan McDougall who have made poppies, created kilometres of icord and, and stuffed an neatened countless stems ready for our poppies to be attached … again.  Susan managed our stem making teams across Victoria for our planting at the Chelsea Flower Show (26,000 stems in three months) and has gone on to run workshops at both Morris and Sons CBD and Granny Square Richmond and a number of other locations almost from the start … such an incredible labour of love.

Keep an eye on this space as the countdown continues …

With love and much much much gratitude.

 

 

 

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ANZAC DAY 2018

Anzac Day 2018 is rapidly approaching … I can’t quite believe that it will be three years since our fantastic tribute was unveiled in Melbourne’s iconic Federation Square …  and then onto Princes Bridge for the duration of the Anzac Day march.  Such a thrill to see our beautiful tribute of love, honour and respect come to life for this important day on the Australian commemorative calendar.

There has been a lot of water … and an awful lot of hard work … under the bridge since then.

I am, as always astounded by the way our lovely little community project just took off … around Australia and then around the world … and still to this day continues to inspire hundreds if not thousands of small and large handcrafted poppy tributes globally.

I know I say it constantly but for me, this project will always be about my father, and for Margy, about her father …. but we continue to note in the letters and dedications that come with your poppies, that this is a very personal tribute for every single person who has made a poppy and sent it to us …

For Anzac Day 2018 we have a couple of small installations happening … one in Sydney at the Westfield Miranda Shopping Centre.  There you will see the ANZAC letters that were originally crafted for the Spirit of Anzac Centenary Experience, the AWM’s outstanding travelling Centenary tribute which toured Australia from 2015 to 2017, plus a selection of our original poppy “strings” which were made for our launch display back in 2013, and have been used in a number of tributes in the years since then.  These are coupled with a fabulous display of WWI memorabilia from the local RSL.  A small but poignant installation.  I hope if you are Sydney based, that you will get an opportunity to go along and view the exhibition.  On display now until 26 April.

There will also be a small installation at the Melbourne Museum in support of the Museum’s WWI Love and Sorrow exhibition.  This will be installed tomorrow and be in situ until 26 April.  This is an outstanding and evocative exhibition and one well worth seeing ….. note to self – take tissues.

We now have our sights firmly set on Remembrance Day 2018 for a series of final poppy tribute installations in various locations around Australia.  Watch this space.

And just for nostalgia’s sake, here is a jump back in time for you to Anzac Day 2015 …

Quite simply, breathtaking.

And last, but certainly not least, a reminder to support the  RSL’s 2018 Anzac Appeal helping to raise funds in support of our Veterans and their families. Even if you have chosen to wear your beautiful handmade poppy this year, and we sincerely understanding that … we encourage everyone to buy a badge, and wear it with pride.

Image result for anzac appeal images

 

 

 

 

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Do you want to help us plant – Canberra 2018?

Oh my … the first weeks of back to work for us have been nothing short of astounding.  Reminiscent of the latter days of collecting for our installation in Federation Square back in 2015.

This is another long post …

So, in truth, with all the poppies flooding in, we can safely say that we have enough poppies to complete our AWM installation well ahead of schedule.  We are mindful that there are still many people out there who are to send their poppies in, and so we are working on a couple of really exciting plans to incorporate all poppies into both the AWM installation, and another (as yet unannounced) installation also in Canberra for the Centenary of Armistice.

It seems as a nation, we can’t get enough of handmade poppies … we have received in excess of 50,000 beautiful handmade poppies since we returned at the end of January.  Who knew???

It saddens me to say … but please … send in your completed poppies now and don’t start any new ones for us.  There are, however, many other poppy installations which have sprung up around the country that you can get involved in.

It’s has been absolutely mesmerising … the heart that has gone into creating this beautiful tribute … your hearts, your histories, your memories, your love, honour and respect.

I am astounded and grateful and overwhelmed and very very excited.

As I mentioned in my last post, our collection for the RSL Poppy Appeal  2018 is also  complete (months ahead of schedule) and we are now focused solely on Remembrance Day in Canberra. And so … our key dates are now set for Canberra and they are :

24 September, grounds team (that’s not us) arrives on site to set up perimeter fencing and other necessaries, and start work on groundworks.  The groundworks consist of creating pathways by pulling up existing turf and laying fake turf to create wheelchair and pedestrian pathways to ensure a safe, even pedestrian and wheelchair accessible surface for the duration of the installation.

29 September planting begins in earnest.  This will be a massive install … no doubt about it.  It will require able bodies (lots of lifting, carrying, bending and kneeling involved), a bit of stamina and some precision planning … not to mention care … It won’t be a race … and we will need a commitment from all our volunteers to set times.  At this stage we are planning to work in teams over two shifts a day for as long as it takes … We are estimating 3+ days for the job followed by cleanup and packup.

5 October – 12 November …The installation opens officially to the public on 5 October from the last week of Floriade and will be in situ for 5 weeks. The installation will be accompanied by a light show and some spectacular music curated by Chris Latham http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/canberra-life/chris-latham-is-the-australian-war-memorials-first-musical-artist-in-residence-20170420-gvow6n.html

11 November of course will be the big day and we may need to do some work perhaps the day before to facelift the installation. This will be a ticketed event and will require you to apply for tickets online when the online ticketing opens sometime in September/October.  Tickets are free but limited so I urge you to ensure that you book your tickets as early as possible for the event if you want seating.

During the installation period which is over 5 weeks/7 days per week, we will need volunteers to man the installation and talk about the project.  Local connections are preferable for obvious reasons … and we are still working on this part of the deal, but if you would like to be involved in manning the installation during that time … it involves talking about the project to visitors (local and tourists) and doing regular housework to ensure that the installation is holding up to the elements.  We will certainly need a lot of help with this tasks as well.  We have approached our local Rotary Club in Melbourne to make connections with the Rotary Club in Canberra, to see if they would be willing to assist with both planting and manning the installation.

It’s a big ask, but I think amongst us we will have enough volunteers to manage.  We have worked very, very hard to get to this stage and it will be worth every single minute of our time.

It is going to be beautiful.

12 November is bump out and again we will need a substantial team to pull out, clean up and repack the stems for distribution … this phase will take 3-4 days.  Not as hard a job physically as the planting, but nevertheless painstaking.  So again, we are asking for volunteers to make this part of the job seamless.  The next few months will see an increase in our workloads to complete the installations we have planned as part of the end of the Centenary.

At the risk of repeating myself over and over … this spectacular tribute has been an absolute privilege not only for myself and Marg and the whole amazing core team who have worked with us for most of the last five plus years, but for all of you.  SIMPLY AMAZING!

For us, as a collective, to have created this beautiful, heartfelt, grass roots community tribute to those 62,000 brave souls and their families and communities who paid the ultimate price for King and Country … what we have made/are making has been an absolute labour of love as well as an honour and a privilege.

Marg and I always knew when we started 5000 Poppies, that it was very special … because for us it was and is about our dads. And the response from crafters across the nation and beyond has been so very, very powerful,, and now, instead of being just about our dads, it’s about our collective stories … fathers and mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers, great grandfathers and great grandmothers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, uncles and aunts, friends, colleagues.

I can honestly say, this is THE most important WORK I have ever done in my life … and I think many of you will feel the same.

So we hope you can join us for these incredibly important last steps in our journey.

It’s going to be absolutely amazing and without wishing my life away, I really can’t wait.

I have created an application form on the blog for potential volunteers to complete and either email or mail into us.  My skills in creating online form are nil, so at this point these are the only ways to apply.  If this changes I will let you know.

Just a last note.  If you wish to view the exhibit and you need to travel … accommodation will be a challenge until after Floriade, which finishes on 14 October, and then again in the leadup to Remembrance Day.  I urge you, if you are not intent on being at the Remembrance Day service on 11 November, to make your plans to visit the installation during those intervening weeks … when it will be less crowded.  That way you will be able to get a seat amongst the poppies and truly immerse yourself in the experience.  I can assure you … it will be worth it.

 

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Hi Ho … Hi Ho …

Happy Wednesday all …

Yesterday was our first day back at Poppy Headquarters in Melbourne, and WOW … THE MAIL!!!

In short, there was well in excess of 11,000 AWM poppies delivered to PHQ over the break … not quite a record but huge nonetheless. Much bigger than any of our expectations.

So … drum roll here … we also managed to complete our commitment to the RSL for 50,000 pinned poppies for the 2018 Poppy Appeal.  An amazing feat and months ahead of schedule.

I am in awe of you all.

And, another drum roll is in order … we are also WELL ahead of our schedule for our stems for the Australian War Memorial for Remembrance Day this year.

Our Canberra team is flying with the creation of some 10,000 plus stems to add to the 28,000 that are sitting in our warehouse waiting for their next big outing … more than half way to our target of 62,000 and months ahead of schedule (although we will be making extra stems to cover breakages over the 5 week installation period).

Our i-corders and goopers have been tested to keep up with demand for “stems” from our Canberra team,  but now that our RSL commitment is complete … it will be all hands on deck for these tasks … we will be churning out stemmed poppies by the multitudes in no time …

So I think it’s time to down poppymaking tools for a time, until we can take stock of our resources here.  We will be over subscribed with our poppies for both projects, there is no doubt, but we have some plans afoot as I’ve mentioned before.  All very exciting and the team is raring to go.

So, let’s take a break, put our crochet hooks and knitting needles away for a time, and send in your wonderful poppies now … Then we can see where we are at.

Again … I am in awe of you all!!!

With love and much, much gratitude.

 

 

 

 

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It’s hard to believe 2018 is here …

Good afternoon, and happy new year to our poppy tribe everywhere … may your year be filled with love, laughter, family and friends …

I am pinching myself that 2018 has arrived already … right on schedule.  The last five years have both flown by and dragged in equal measure, but this year will definitely fly … and it’s going to be huge for all of us involved in this amazing community tribute of respect and remembrance for our Service men and women past and present.

I see some of our groups are already up and running for 2018 which is amazing.

Poppy headquarters will not be resuming work at the East Malvern RSL until Tuesday 23 January, and there will be NO second Monday of the month at Fed Square this month.  We will resume in February.  We felt after five years working on the project, we needed a well earned break to recharge our batteries and give ourselves some space for planning.

To date we have now collected over 50,000 poppies for our AWM installation for Remembrance Day this year, and our stem production program is well in hand and will ramp up in the coming months.

I know there are many of you are continuing to make poppies for AWM and I want to advise that we are planning an additional installation at another important Canberra institution for Remembrance Day this year … which is also VERY, VERY exciting … more news on this when plans are more concrete. So please don’t be concerned that you will miss out.  Send in your poppies.

Suffice to say that your beautiful poppies will be on display at two of Australia’s iconic institutions for Remembrance Day this year … It will be spectacular … evocative, respectful and very, very beautiful.  What a privilege!

We also have a magnificent installation planned in support of the Launceston RSL’s Centenary of Armistice Concert for Remembrance Day 2018, and we are just a smidge short of finalising our commitment to the Vic RSL for the poppy appeal for 2018 … so we are moving along at a pace.

So I am very happy to advise that at this point we are well ahead of schedule … Although we still have PLENTY of work to do before November, and once the break is over … it will be all hands on deck!

So (without wishing my life away, and knowing that I need this downtime) I’m itching to get back into it …

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your continued support.

Can’t wait!

Lynn xxx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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