Good afternoon all … and welcome to 2017.
So that was Christmas and New Year done and dusted … I hope you had a wonderful break (if you managed) and some special time with family and friends. I can’t quite believe how quickly the weeks are flying by already … I would love it to slow down a little but time waits for no man I guess (or woman).
We have had a wonderful couple of weeks break … weather notwithstanding, and now we are slowly easing ourselves back into all things poppy.
At this stage, we don’t have a huge year ahead for our poppies in 2017, although 2018 will be a whole other story. However, we are grateful for a little respite … because the last two years have been huge … so 2017 offers us a chance to consolidate before the big finale year in 2018. We are still assessing how we can best employ this amazing asset this year, so that people get to see and enjoy.
We also still have work to do on the 80 nets post Chelsea. We started this work late last year and have been thrilled to find that it is minor compared to the post Anzac Day 2015 upgrade … so we expect that it will be just a few months … and for the most part … this work is making them ready for 2018, so we have time. The nets seem to have survived their moment on the world stage admirably (and proudly).
At this time we expect to be particularly busy as expected around Anzac Day and Remembrance Day this year, and we are also planning to do a few smaller installations to support local commemorative activities throughout the year. There will be more information to come on all of that once things are locked in.
First up though … is our commitment to make 50,000 lapel poppies for the RSL to sell as part of their 2018 Poppy Appeal … these will be our own “special edition” hand crafted poppies to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the end of World War I, and a wonderful way for all of us collectively to contribute to the ongoing wellbeing of current and former members of Australian and allied defence forces and their dependants.
From the RSL website …
During the First World War, red poppies were among the first plants to bloom in the devastated battlefields of northern France and Belgium. In soldier’s folklore, the vivid red of the poppy came from the blood of their comrades soaking the ground, making the poppy symbolic of the bloodshed in trench warfare.
The Poppy was chosen as the emblem of remembrance after Canadian military physician, John McCrae wrote the moving and powerful poem In Flanders Fields. John McCrae is popularly believed to have written the poem on May 3rd 1915 after he witnessed the death of his 22 year old friend, Lieutenant Alexis Helmer the day prior. The poem was first published on December 8 of that year in the London based magazine, Punch. To this day, the poem remains one of the most memorable war poems ever written. It is a lasting legacy of the terrible battles of the Ypres salient in the spring of 1915.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
John McCrae, 1915
So … the work has started, and while we haven’t done a formal count, we have already received around 2,000 brand new gorgeous poppies … and that’s a fantastic achievement. We are hoping to deliver at least 10,000 to the RSL in the first half of the this year just to get the ball rolling … the remainder will be delivered periodically throughout 2017 and into 2018 to allow time for the RSL to prepare for them sale … because the plan is that they will be packaged a little differently to the standard Poppy Appeal poppies. We are so excited about the opportunity to contribute in this way, and we are certainly looking forward to getting as many people on board as we can. What’s that saying … many hands … seems to be our mantra!!!
We are looking for small to medium, tight knit or crochet poppies .. around 9 cm in diameter. Slightly larger is ok so long as they don’t “wilt”. It would be very helpful if you could attach a pin to the back but if that’s not possible then it’s not a major problem, but the less post processing for the RSL the better. If you go to the patterns page on the blog the Chelsea patterns are perfect and Ing’s poppy pattern is gorgeous but you can make just about any one of these poppies and it will work … the key is the tension … we don’t want them flopping.
The RSL are hoping to raise $1 million from our contribution. That’s a huge amount of money that will be put towards ongoing programs in support of our returned servicemen and women and their families … a noble cause and one I hope you will support with us.
I will be announcing a number of workshops over the next month in and around Melbourne, but we kicked off last Saturday with a workshop with the Mornington Peninsula 5000 Poppies team at the Mornington Library … a big thank you Judi McKinna for organising while Carol Copp is taking a break. We had around 12 delightful women and there was lots of laughter and plenty of stories as always. It was fantastic to see Margaret Halstead from Banbury England … who we met in Chelsea back in May. She has been braving the changeable Melbourne weather on holiday in Australia with family, and we loved that she could join us. She is a big part of our growing international Poppy Tribe and will continue to spread the message and the heartfelt remembrance connection when she goes back home.
I will also be continuing our regular workshops in at Fed Square over the next 18 months … but there will be more – so keep your eye on the blog and the facebook page.
I would love it if you wanted to get on board as a champion in your local area … run workshops (get togethers) and arrange for delivery the poppies to us in Melbourne …
I love the way that women connect over craft in this way. It’s such a wonderful byproduct of working together on a project with such heart.
So more news later … but in the meantime … drag out those needles, crochet hooks and yarn and let’s get to it.