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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.