2017 has been a long year …

5000 Poppies installation Fed Square Remembrance Day 2013

As we wind down to the end of 2017 … and look forward to what’s to come in 2018 … I say it has been a long year … but in fact it feel like only yesterday we were installing our very first installation in Federation Square in 2013  … followed by the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show and our iconic installation in Fed Square in 2015 and then the RHS Chelsea Flower Show and Fromelles in 2016.  Followed by the beautiful installation at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne for Remembrance Day this year (not to mention the many smaller (but not less beautiful or heartfelt) installations over the last 4.5 years).  And also remembering the wonderful installations of our poppies on the Western Front this year managed by our Rotary friends in District 1520.

Installation at the commemoration of the centenary of the Battle of Passchendaele 2017

So, now that I think about it … it’s been a long and very memorable 4.5 years since we started the 5000 Poppies Project back in 2013.

This year has seen us all making, collecting, sorting, pinning and bagging our 50,000 Poppies for the Victorian RSL as a thank you for their financial assistance in getting us to Chelsea and Fromelles, and also making, collecting, sorting and making preparations for our 62,000 stems for the Australian War Memorial for Remembrance Day 2018 for the Centenary of Armistice.

Either one of those projects would have been a huge undertaking on its own … to do both has been an enormous commitment … from everyone … and I admit there have been a few times when I have taken a step back and wondered if we would make it … but such is the commitment of our Poppy Team, that I need not have worried.

A few members of our Melbourne contingent in 2016

I am thrilled to report and we are well ahead of schedule on both projects … and expect that we will have our commitment to the RSL completed before Christmas … four months ahead of schedule.

We are still counting and collating numbers on the AWM poppies … because they are not all coming into PHQ … but we are well ahead of schedule on that project too … both on the collection of the poppies and the creation of the finished poppy stems.

There are also a couple of additional projects that are in the pipeline … still in negotiation … that we will announce in the new year (if not before),  along with actual dates for the AWM installation.

All is well.

2018 will be bigger than Ben Hur for both the PHQ team and those wonderful satellite teams existing and new that are working hard on getting us over the line.  This includes our Canberra team who have had to come up to speed very quickly with the amount of poppies that have been dropped at the AWM, and doing an amazing job under the Canberra Coordinator Ledy Rowe … but there are also many other individuals and groups who are working hard on our behalf all over Australia.

Canberra Team Coordinator Ledy Rowe

Have I mentioned how much  I love the connections that are being made everywhere under the umbrella of our wonderful little community project.

So … I will post news as it comes to hand … but a reminder that the team at PHQ will be taking an extended break over Christmas/New Year.  Our last poppy day will be 14 December and we will resume workshops on Tuesday 23 January.  It will be a much needed break for the team (and for me I must admit).

I will still be collecting mail occasionally during this time … but we will not be processing poppies until we return … so would be really grateful if you have poppies to share with us if you could send them in by last mail 8 December 2017 or hold over until week beginning 22 January 2018.

If you are Melbourne based (or even if you are not) we will have a Christmas lunch at PHQ on Thursday December 14 from 11.00 till 2.00 p.m.  Love to see you if you can make it.

 

 

 

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LEST WE FORGET

Good evening Team Poppy.

It’s Remembrance Day tomorrow … a solemn day when we have an opportunity to express our deep gratitude to our servicemen and women past and present for their service and sacrifice … and pay tribute also to their families and their wider communities.

These days, we wear our poppies not only as a symbol of remembrance of the fallen, but also as a symbol of our support for those who have chosen (or in the case of those who in the past have been conscripted) to serve their country … our country.

So … this week we have again created a most beautiful and moving tribute at Melbourne’s iconic Shrine of Remembrance.  As beautiful as it is … this is only one of many many other tributes that have been created throughout the world … created from our hearts, with love, and honour and respect.

If you could reflect on this post and pass on our message to anyone you know who is currently serving, or has served, or has suffered from the ongoing effects of their own service or their loved ones’ service …  it is why we are doing what we are doing …

This tribute is our gift to you.

Our way of saying thank you, and a poignant reminder of the depth of feeling from a grateful nation.

Your service will not be forgotten.

LEST WE FORGET

A huge thank you to Claire Takacs for the lovely early morning images.

 

 

 

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5000 Poppies at Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance

Good morning team Poppy …

It’s a huge day at 5000 Poppies today … this afternoon, we will be installing some 200,000 poppies at Melbourne’s iconic Shrine of Remembrance in a very moving tribute of love, honour and respect for our servicemen and women, past and present, their families and their communities.

This is what our lovely little community project is all about.

So we are feeling excited and privileged to be at the Shrine with all of your beautiful poppies … alongside the Menin Gate Buglers to commemorate the 99th anniversary of the end of WWI.  What a spectacular tribute it will make.

The poppies will be at the Shrine until Sunday afternoon 12 November.  Hope you get a chance to come down and see us.

 

 

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Remembrance Day 2017

As Remembrance Day 2017 is just around the corner, today I have been reflecting a lot on what it might have been like for our soldiers in 1917, “over there” so far from home, fighting for King and Country … in what would has been described by most as Hell on earth … heading into the bitter cold of a northern winter with little comfort, and by that stage of the War wondering if it was ever going to end.  And for many, it ended way too abruptly, never to return to homes and families … and for those who did return, life was forever changed … not just for them but for their families, their communities and our nation as a whole.

It’s hard to fathom from the comfort of my loungeroom, the scale of the loss of life and the misery of that terrible war and all the wars that have come since.

And I am feeling grateful for the service and sacrifice of all of our servicemen and women, their families and their communities.

So, this Remembrance Day, please show your respect by wearing your poppy with pride and gratitude, and, if you are so inclined … support your various veterans charities as best you can.

 

 

 

 

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I haven’t posted for a while …

WOW … good afternoon all … I haven’t posted for a while, in fact, it’s been over a month.  Where did that time go?

So a huge welcome to all the newest members of our team.  We seem to have stabilised at around 12,300ish members on the facebook group now … but there are many, many others who are not facebook connected.  It’s impossible to know just how many of you are out there making poppies, but I suspect there are many.

Every week when the mail comes in, it’s like Christmas for us … another step closer to our two rather lofty targets (50,000/62,000), and apart from all of the wonderful poppies … there are also your cards, and stories and dedications … and recording these dedications and the contributors is just as important to the Project as the making of the poppies.  Yes we make poppies with love in our hearts and in gratitude for the service and sacrifice of our servicemen and women … but this is a rather historical project in its own right and we are trying to be sure to keep as accurate a record as we can.  That being said, we are slowly catching up with the admin work thanks to Deb Lewis.  Poppies sent to poppy headquarters are documented weekly, and others including those arriving at the War Memorial and the collection points will follow once we receive the information.

Last week we reached another milestone … 30,000 poppies collected for the RSL for the 2018 poppy appeal (only 20,000 to go) and we are up to somewhere in the vicinity of 12,000 collected at PHQ for the AWM … we know there are many more out there … but we haven’t received paperwork on them yet … it will follow over time.  We will do a call-in in early December to reconcile where we are at and to enable us to start 2018 with a clear idea of what we still need to achieve our goals.  Meanwhile … we keep making.

This photo is of my son Evan at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show last year meeting the gorgeous and very gracious Demi Moore (just ‘cos I can).

A couple of key points though … we are receiving hundreds if not thousands of poppies without the ends sewn in … these unfinished poppies are not suitable for either of our projects, and so need considerable work to make them ready for use … we would prefer to receive less finished poppies than hundreds of unfinished poppies … so if it’s a toss up for you, we would be happy for you to make fewer finished poppies, ends sewn in, buttons or other centres firmly attached.  This makes the task for the small teams in both Melbourne and Canberra much easier when it comes to attaching your poppies to stems.

The second is, if you are POSTING your poppies … please POST to 5000 Poppies, P.O. Box 115, Ashburton 3147.  Otherwise you are welcome to drop off to any of the collection points on the blog including the AWM.

And, if you haven’t already, you should read the FAQ on the blog or the pinned post on the facebook group … lots of juicy information about the whys and wherefores there for you.

It is so exciting to see these wonderful projects progressing as well as they are.

Love your work!!!

 

 

 

 

 

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A Little Word on Which Poppy Pattern to Use …

Good afternoon team poppy … what an amazing few weeks we have had.

We are now up to just over 12,000 members on the facebook group … so our little group has grown into a mammoth group with all the management issues that inevitably spring from such rapid growth.

By now many of you will be ploughing into the poppy making process and having a ball … and even though some of you will be struggling with picking up and needles/hooks again after years or starting from scratch … everyone is committed because this is a wonderful wonderful thing we are doing.

It’s got heart and soul, its cathartic, it’s collegiate and it sends such an incredibly powerful message of love, honour and respect to our servicemen and women past and present, and their families and communities for their contribution to the lives we safely lead in our wonderful country.

We have NO other agenda.

We are all volunteers and colleagues working to a common goal – Remembrance Day 2018.

Exciting.

And we have committed to a lot but it’s a labour of love.

So this is sounding like a James A. Michener novel.

Today, on the facebook page I asked people to NOT make anymore of the Spotlight poppies for the AWM installation.  I know that has sent a few of you into a tail spin because from what I can see from the mail this week there are many being made.

We have tried not to be prescriptive with our poppy patterns in the past because we don’t want this to be a flat, generic installation … we want colour and movement … we want it to draw your eye.

However, there is a problem with this poppy pattern, and that is that it is a combination of large and flat with a big hole in the centre.  The hole itself presents us with a problem as to how to attach to our stem because the stem simply pokes through the hole.  But in testing, the poppy does not really stand up to the elements … it droops … and because of its size it droops a lot.

This is one of the reasons we ask people to use a smaller hook or needles than normal … to limit the droopiness. But with this poppy … the droopiness is inevitable.

So … in saying all this … I don’t want you to feel like we don’t want your poppies … but our first big delivery this week has seen a lot of the Spotlight poppies arriving, I expect because it’s a simple pattern … and it was posted on the facebook group today as a quick and easy pattern.  But  … it has created a bit of a problem for us because we have been closing up the hole or putting a button on them and running a thread around the centre to draw it up a bit so that it doesn’t droop quite so much … hours and hours of time.  And in truth, we really don’t have the resources to do this.  It’s counter productive for us and doesn’t allow us to focus on the wider task.

Please please please don’t allow this to upset your applecart … we are NOT being exclusive, we are just telling it like it is

A poppy in its natural environment has some shape, a wave, a cupping and we have many many patterns that emulate that “movement” in some way.

Yes we know they are not botanically correct.  They are knitted and crocheted.  It’s the movement we are trying to achieve.

Ok … now that is out there.

There are many many patterns on the blog 5000poppies.wordpress.com/poppy-patterns that achieve this LOOK to varying degrees and there are also many new patterns and variations of existing patterns being shared on Ravelry and on the facebook page that also emulate this movement.  And we also ask you to be creative with your centres … after all, you are limited in your colour range for the poppies so we ask you to have free range with your centres which many of you have chosen to do … and it’s a delight … beautiful buttons, cute knitted and crocheted fripperies … embroidery, lace, eyelash yarn beads … even freshwater pearls (I am assuming from an old piece of unused jewellery).  Its a riot out there and we love it. And it will add so much visual effect and character to the display …

I have posted some photos below of different poppies and different centres … many of these poppies don’t have patterns associated with them … they just turn up on our doorstep and they work on many levels.

I am not asking you to scrap your poppies … please send them to us … but please help us by limiting the amount of rework we need to do.  And if you don’t mind from now on, if you have been using the Spotlight pattern or any other flat pattern … please take this post into consideration for your next poppy.

With love.

Lynn

 

 

 

 

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Meet the Team …

Good morning team Poppy. Just a quick note to introduce you to Lynn Berry (that’s me in the middle) and Marg Knight (that’s her on the left) aka Cow & Chicken. We are the creators of the amazing 5000 Poppies Project … and I say amazing because it started out as a tiny very personal tribute to our fathers back in 2013, and has morphed into this incredible nationwide (worldwide) outpouring. That IS amazing.
The good looking bloke on the right is Phil Johnson (Phillip Johnson Landscapes).  Apart from being Australia’s premier landscape designer (winning the RHS Chelsea Flower Show Gold and Best in Show in 2013), Phil and his team have been the designers and project managers of each of our major installations along the way … Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show (2015), Federation Square (Anzac Day 2015), Chelsea Flower Show (2016), Centenary of the Battle of Fromelles, France (2016), and will again work with us to create the installation at the Australian War Memorial … it’s easy to say but you are just sticking poppies in the ground … but the truth is … the logistics are incredibly complex with installations of this kind and Phil and his team do an outstanding job with much flair and aplomb.  We love them.
Marg and I are so proud of what we’ve achieved. In the main, because it has given an opportunity to every one of us to be involved in something truly beautiful as a tribute of respect and remembrance. And … we are so grateful for your wonderful contribution to not only our past installations, but also the next two major phases of the project.  One … to create a stunning world class art installation featuring more than 60,000 poppies in honour of those who fought and died in WWI, which is a monumental undertaking. But on top of that (as if that wasn’t enough) we have also undertaken to create 50,000 poppies for RSL Vic for the 2018 Poppy Appeal. You can read more about all of this on the blog 5000poppies.wordpress.com
But we haven’t done it alone. There is a wonderful team of people who work tirelessly behind the scenes, and who have been with us almost from the start. These people have helped to shape this ever expanding project into what we see now. And, we could not have achieved what we have achieved without them.
The person you see here is Kate Moloney (that’s Kate in what I think is the best selfie ever). Kate works directly with me tirelessly on every phase of the project … silently and efficiciently … and has been a brilliant support.
And then there is Ted Baillieu … our unofficial patron … who has been behind us all the way.  Former Premier of Victoria, and now Chairman of the Anzac Centenary Committee,  Ted has been known to say that he thinks 5000 Poppies is one of the most important community art installation in the history of our nation and  he has also been instrumental in helping us to achieve that status.
At the risk of repeating myself over and over … what we have undertaken is huge (four years of work … and well over a million man hours … by many, many people), and it is so important to us that Marg and I both gave up our jobs to do it. So you can appreciate that we want the very best outcome for EVERY installation we do, whether it’s on the world stage or not.
There have been many groups who meet regularly to catch up for some quality time making and sharing … it’s an important part of the process and there are many more teaming up to create for our final installation at the AWM.
I was asked on Anzac Day 2015 by one of Melbourne’s foremost journalists “what does this project mean to you now Lynn” …  and my answer was  … “Apart from the obvious … showing our gratitude to those who have served, their families and their communities, for me its about community and connection”.  Working to a common purpose, creating something amazing, working with likeminded people, creating new friendships, sharing the joy of creating, sharing patterns and stories … creating community spirit … and … connections across many layers … connecting with our heritage, our personal stories, our ancestors, our shared history … it’s very, very special.  And it continues to be very special.
So … welcome to our world.  We love it that you have joined us.
Now, back to basics … our admins are myself, Marg, Sarah Worley, and we will soon add a couple more … but there are a number of other people who have been with us forever and are an integral part of every decision we make. Sometimes you will see comments from them on the facebook group.  As you can appreciate … there are now many thousands of posts on the group … with over 11,000 members (8000 of whom are relatively new to the group), that’s no surprise.  The admins don’t get to see all posts anymore … but if there is something that you need to know directly from the horse’s mouth so to speak … and you can’t find the answer on the pinned post or FAQ on the blog, please feel free to tag one of the the admins. 
With love
Lynn and Marg
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