It’s hard to believe the year is nearly over …

My 2018 end of year message has now been uploaded.  This one is a little on the long side, so grab a cup of [insert beverage of your choice] and sit back for 10 minutes or so as I remind you of the incredible story of how our crafting community came together en masse to create a powerful message of love, honour, respect, and much gratitude to our servicemen and women, their families and their communities for their service and sacrifice.

Wishing you a very special Christmas filled with much love and joy, and all good things [insert preferences] for 2019.

With love

Lynn

 

 

 

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It’s only words … and words are all I have

Dear fantastic and amazing 5000 Poppies team.

I know that wordpress and facebook is probably not the most personal place to put this … but it is the most far reaching of all the mediums I have at my disposal to thank every single one of you for your contribution to our amazing 5000 Poppies Project.

It has been an intense five plus years to say the least.

But it has also been the most stunning, heartfelt and beautiful thing I have ever done.

Who knew that such a simple idea with a simple message of gratitude would capture the nation’s and indeed the world’s imagination in such a way.

And it is all because of you.

You.

Your poppies … your commitment,… your belief … your comments on facebook and other social media … your engagement and encouragement and your willingness to participate and to share.  Your work ethic. Your willingness to get the job done.

Words can never, ever, ever thank you enough.

What we have done as a collective is powerful beyond belief.

To those who have friends and family who have served or have family lost to war, families who were left at home to cope with the aftermath … and to those who have struggled with the aftermath themselves … it is impossible to miss our message …. Thank you from the depth of our very souls for your service and sacrifice.

5000 Poppies has now done its duty … nearly six years if you take in the earliest days … and we have done everything we set out to do and so much more.

To Marg, it’s been a wild ride … and we got there.  It’s been an amazing journey of the heart in honour of the incomparable Wal and Stan.  They were, and still are, our personal heroes. Thank you.

To Kate who has been the very best backstop ever … and who quit her job to see us through to the end … no amount of thanks can ever cover it.  I am grateful beyond belief for your unwavering support, and especially for stepping up over the last eight months or even more as I recovered from my knee surgery … it’s been a difficult year and I am not sure I personally would have made it through without you.

To our wonderful core PHQ team, many of whom have been with us right from the very start and have worked incredibly hard on everything we have done, especially the  inner wheel … Kate, Rosie, Sarah, Di, Anne, Rana, Helen, Wilma, Ann, Eleanor, Deb and Bernice.  You made me laugh and cry and kept me grounded and focused … not an easy task.

To the rest of our amazing and incredibly special PHQ team, Janis and Marilyn, Ing, Judi, Tori, Susan, Dawn, Inah, Robyn, Setsuko, Kathy, Ursula and Allison, and to those who were a big part of our PHQ group but couldn’t make it to PHQ or didn’t make it as often as they might have liked but took mountain loads of work home to do … and to those who came to see us through a stage of the journey, or stayed for a while and then needed to get back to their real lives … thank you.

To Phillip … wonderful Phillip.  What can I say?   You have been instrumental in getting our message out there so powerfully. We are a brilliant team … and we have achieved so much … you took our vision and made it so much more than we could have imagined … thank you. If we could give you gold and best in show … it would be yours … no … wait … you already have that. Your skills, your work ethic, your brilliant designs Phillip … exquisite, meaningful, powerful and felt to the core.  Thank you for taking our dreams and making them a reality.

To Vaughn … what can I say.  You have been the very best project manager a team could ever hope for.  You are magnificent!

To Nadine … the i-cord queen who along with Deanne and Marilyn in the initial stages, did the majority of the i-cording.  Thank you.

To those who have led teams all over the country … some I know and many I don’t … which makes it difficult to single you out.  Nadine and Pauline in Gippsland, Denise in North of the Yarra and NT,  Helen in Bendigo, Carol and her team in Mount Martha, Susan and her teams in Melbourne, Susan Campbell-Wright in Point Cook, Meredith Stafford in Geelong, my knitting group in Melbourne, Lisa in Oakleigh, Angela Leung and her group in Croydon, Anne Bryan and her team in Kilsyth/Mooroolbark, Janet Welsch at Textile Offcuts in Lilydale, and The Fed Square team who came every month, and were every bit as excited about it as the next man, and now my poor brain has run out of individual names which is making me very sad.  Thank you.

I am constantly feeling like I might have left someone out of these lists … it’s exhausting worrying about it … let me know if you feel I have at 5000poppies@gmail.com and with your help, I will edit happily …

To Ledy and Meredith who took on the daunting task of managing the Canberra avalanche after the War Memorial tribute was announced … I am not sure anything could have prepared any of us for that … thank you.

To the fantastic Canberra team who took up the gauntlet with a vengeance last year … who loved it and owned it and did a magnificent job.  It was a super human effort.    And then to maintain the installation at the War Memorial for five weeks … a mammoth commitment by all accounts, although I believe it was extremely rewarding to get to talk to the public every day about 5000 Poppies.  I was in serious envy!!!!

To those who made poppies for the various stages of the Project …in all, nearly a million of them, thank you. They are beautiful, and they have been cherished individually and collectively.  We were well aware that they were imbued with your love, honour and respect and we were honoured to create such beautiful collective tributes with them.

To those who continued to make poppies for other projects so that not only Australia but all over the world … would be covered in a sea of red.

And to those husbands, fathers, brothers, sisters who took up the gauntlet too especially Ray, Jonathan, Tim, Evan, David, Allan and Pete, all of whom went above and beyond in support and energy and to big brother Chris who made our PHQ tables … they single handedly saved our backs and we sent grateful thoughts to every day for them.

To the massive teams who have helped us to install and deinstall countless installations.  How incredible you are.  I am overwhelmed by your willingness to hunker down, and work as hard as you did in sometimes not particularly pleasant circumstances.  No words!

To Ted Baillieu … I blame you!

To the East Malvern RSL which has been our home for nearly two years … we certainly could not have achieved what we have achieved without your generosity … we have loved being part of your family.

To all who have supported us financially and otherwise … wow … especially our major supporters.  The Victorian Government and Qantas for getting us to London, the Australian Government, Neil Mitchell, and our private supporter Margaret … for getting us to Fromelles.  To the Australian War Memorial team, Australian Parliament House team, The Victorian RSL, the Australian Airforce Association, Carpet Call, Wondoflex and Australian Country Spinners … we are grateful beyond words. There are more … many more.

To Daniele and her wonderful Rotary friends in France who first helped us immensely in Fromelles and now have taken our poppies from Fromelles and put them to work over the last few years alongside her own personal tributes, in honour of those brave soldiers who fought and died in France and Belgium.

To Sue and Adrian Egglestone … for creating that magnificent Gratitude Sculpture that was at the head of our display in Fed Square 2015 … it was the most magnificent piece of art now living in its new home at the Repatriation Hospital in Victoria.

To Verena and Sarah … our two English compatriots who put together 1200 poppies to add to our Chelsea Flower Show installation in honour of their own countrymen and women who served.

To David Brooks who has been recording our journey since Chelsea and plans to make a documentary about the project … thank you.

To Bulldog who did an amazing job creating and decorating our planting tools for the installation and a couple of deinstallation tools for the Shrine deinstall … not to mention modifying our short stems so they were beautiful … brilliant effort.

To the wonderful venues who provided us with housing for workshops and working spaces … what a gift … Melbourne City Council for the Town Hall, Morris and Sons Melbourne, Federation Square, Granny Square in Richmond, Crafty Cottage Oakleigh, Wondoflex, Malvern, Fawkner RSL, Opendrawer in Camberwell, Allan’s Bakery, Kilsyth, Milkbar & Co, Mt Martha, Mornington Library, Poppy’s Cafe in Canberra and all those who offered up their homes for making and finishing, and the myriad of other places where our teams met regularly for poppymaking … There are also the many hundred of individuals and organisations that collected poppies from their local areas throughout the project and sent them on to us at their own cost …. it has been truly amazing to have your support … thank you!

So …now it’s time for us to retire and to let a new breed of poppymakers continue the journey into the future.  It has been a difficult withdrawal for many … as it is for me, so I understand  …  And I suspect that my poppy days are not quite over … you just never know … and there is still much work to do including dissemination of the asset, a book and, apparently, a documentary.

It has been an honour and a privilege.

There is now a little red thread of connection that runs around the globe on so many different levels

Connecting us to each other ….

Connecting us with our wider communities.

Connecting us with our personal histories and the personal histories of others … sometimes our members discovered shared histories and relatives they never knew existed

Connecting us with the past …

Connecting us with the present, and a legacy that I hope will span long into the future

The facebook group will go on.  And there will be news aplenty in the new year about what comes next and what will happen.  We have started the process of disseminating the gigantic asset we have accumulated over the last five years, and I expect that will continue into the new year.

For the moment.  Marg and I plan to have a bit of a rest but watch this space.

I told you it was addictive.

With all my love and much, much gratitude.

Lynn

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Done and (almost) Dusted

What an enormous few weeks we have had at 5000 Poppies.

I am in serious awe of what we have achieved and even bigger and more serious awe of the amazing team we have had behind us all the way.

It is incredible to me that we take four days to create an tribute so powerful that it literally takes your breath away and then in one day … with around 60 volunteers … it’s gone and all that is left are the kangaroos reclaiming the ground they reluctantly relinquished just over a month ago.

There have been tears aplenty in the last couple of days … but the overwhelming emotion for me is pride.  We set out to remind our servicemen and women, their families and their communities that we value there service and their sacrifice and I think we have done it beautifully …  We have galvanised an army of crafters to create the most beautiful tributes the country has ever seen.  I has been an extraordinary labour of love and again I am in awe!

Thank you and congratulations to the whole team … every single one of you went above and beyond and I love you for your commitment and perseverance and willingness to get the job done … whatever was required.

Lest We Forget!

This is a reminder of what you have achieved in the last few weeks … not that you could forget … but worth reviewing …

 

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Not Forgotten …

We are moving forward … at a pace it feels … towards our last wave of tributes this week for Remembrance Day and the Centenary of Armistice next Sunday.  It’s been amazing and very gratifying to be able to take the opportunity this morning to take our beautiful contemplative walk at Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance in the early morning light with very few people around.  the Ode is an incredibly powerful and evocative excerpt from the Poem “For the Fallen” by Laurence Binyon.  the first line … “They shall grow not old” always transports me to those places in my heart where my gratitude for all those brave souls lives.  How can it not.

Everything we have done over the last five years plus is a reminder to me, and to any who look upon these stunning tributes created with loving hands, that we won’t forget

There is a thread that runs from line to line linking the words … it is reminiscent of the threads of connection … familial or otherwise … to those who have served … and those who are no longer with us but left us with such an amazing legacy of courage, and bravery, and mateship.

A small tribute from our original panels (2015) has been installed at Point Cook and looks amazing as a backdrop to their Cenotaph and commemorative activities which took place last night.

Photos by Kay Dickenson

Tomorrow we begin our final installation at Australian Parliament House on the forecourt.  Praying for the weather to hold while we put this in place.

We also have a small installation to put in at Ainslie Place in Canberra.

And then that is it.

We sincerely hope that the wider community carries on with our legacy … it’s such a wonderful way to build community, share stories and honour the memory of those who have served or are serving, their families and their communities.

Plus knitting and crocheting poppies is kinda fun!

LETS NOT FORGET THEM

 

 

 

 

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Counting down now to 11 November …

It’s been another whirlwind week in a series of whirlwind weeks for 5000 Poppies.

Following hot on the heels of our magnificent installation at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, this week we have unveiled our next in a series of tribute installations for Remembrance Day 2018 at Australian Parliament House in Canberra.

A spectacular display of some 30,000 poppies in a series of 48 large panels adorns the wall above the marble entrance hall. It is a combination of knit and crochet poppy panels and felt, fabric and paper poppy panels alternating for the 60m or so length of the wall.  A brilliant effort, beautifully executed by the team at PHQ, using your gorgeous, heartfelt handcrafted poppies.

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The majority of the poppies in this piece are taken from the overrun of poppies we received for our AWM tribute (there were many) and others that have been collected over time.  Again, we have tried to incorporate a wide cross section of poppies to ensure that as many makers as possible are represented in this installation.  A labour of love by many.

This tribute complements our beautiful AWM installation, and, politics aside, it serves to remind our present day Politicians of how decisions made in the halls of Parliament some 100 years ago … deeply impacted our young nation … as Dr Brendan Nelson reminded us in his address to the National Press Club in September this year.

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So, while while I am still marvelling at the sheer *scale, beauty and sadness of our incredibly evocative tribute of 62,000 individually handcrafted stemmed poppies … each representing an Australian life lost in WWI … we still have work to do.

I should also mention that the AWM will have bunches of our beautiful 5000 Poppies Poppies available for purchase after the 12 November.  You can go online to Poppy pre-order AWM  They will be a little faded from their time basking in the sun (some more faded that others after their time in the sun in the U.K. and France, but that just adds to the history.  Proceeds from the sale will go to Legacy Australia.

The third in the series at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne will be unveiled on 4 November and will feature The Ode from Laurence Binyon’s For the Fallen … one of the most stunning pieces of poetry I have ever heard and one that reduces me to tears, no matter how often I hear it.  It brings to mind those men and women who have lost “mates” in service (my father included) and the enduring legacy they are left with.  Lest We Forget.

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And the final two pieces will be installed in Canberra from 6-8 November.  I will share more of these tributes once they are in situ.

And of course, for our Victorian family … the RSL has our beautiful handcrafted Poppy Pins available now among the myriad of choices for this year’s Poppy Appeal.  Made with love.  Keep your eye out for them.  We would love to see them everywhere come November 11.  Funds raised go towards RSL Veterans Programs.

Poppy Appeal

*My apologies to the photographer for no credit on the AWM shot … but I have no idea where the image originated. 

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Launch Day

I cannot believe how quickly that time went.

Today was the launch of our amazing tribute to the Fallen of WWI on the lawns of the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.  Nearly six years in the making, and just as Margy and I envisioned it at the AWM all that time ago.  And Phil’s spectacular embodiment of that vision is genius!

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It feels like forever and no time at all.

62,000 beautiful handcrafted poppies … representing 62,000 lives lost in WWI.

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It is sobering.

And it is also sobering to walk through our field, and really feel the meaning behind every one of those blooms.

The depth of feeling that went into the making … handmade by our magnificent tribe from all over the world … with love, honour and respect.

And the stories that came with the blooms … some tragic, some heroic, some heartwarming, but all very, very real.

What an amazing privilege.

Some of our beautiful blooms are slightly worn by the patina of their travels through the RHS Chelsea Flower Show and Fromelles, France for the Centenary of the Battle of Fromelles in 2016.  They will fade, as poppies in the field do.  But that will be part of the story too.

I am sure it will be on the news tonight everywhere, but I am equally sure that it will be breaking the internet as well.  So stunning are the images coming out of Canberra today.

There are so many to thank … where do you start.

Marg at AWM

My heart is full.

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At times it felt like we would never make it …

And then all of a sudden we are here.

Day one of planting has been amazing and quite surreal.

When you have worked towards something for such a long time, and then it is upon you … you feel strange … really weird … it’s like an out of body experience.

The reality hasn’t hit yet … but yesterday nearly 16,000 of 62,000 poppies were put into the ground, … calculations were checked and rechecked and found to be perfect … that’s down to our Phillip (Phillip Johnson Landscapes) and Vaughn.

Our volunteers are absolutely committed to the cause, and were incredibly grateful to be part of this wondrous event … I wonder if they still feel the same way this morning … the day after day one.  There will be many sore, stiff and aching bodies … the ground is like granite in some places.

Day 2 is about to begin … limber up those joints at exercises this morning people … another three hour shift ahead of you.  Take it easy … it’s not a race … we have plenty of time to get it done and plenty of volunteers itching to be here with us.

P.S.  Sunscreen mandatory … it’s hot out there even when it’s not … that sun is ferocious and …

P.P.S.  highly recommending a visit to our resident Masseur and Exercise Physiologist  Frank who has also volunteered his time to be with us … and who does wonderful work with sore hands, sore feet, sore backs, sore legs ….

P.P.P.S.  And not forgetting the fantastic breakfast rolls and coffee from our resident barista Jon Ling.  Most of us would not have survived the day without him.

 

 

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