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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My Christmas message to you all …

This is my address at our Christmas breakup yesterday … It was really lovely to get together in a big social group and just chat …

I often say I could talk for hours about this project … so settle in …

I was sitting in the Canberra airport on Tuesday after the launch of the Australian War Memorial’s program for Remembrance Day 2018 by Dr Brendan Nelson, and I have to admit I was feeling rather proud and very, very excited

Knitted Poppies in the grounds of the Memorial

What a stage for our final installation … what a stunning backdrop for this amazing tribute created by many, many thousands of hands across the world with so much love, honour and respect.

We have been working on what I like to call “our lovely little community project” for nearly five years now and by the time we complete our AWM installation it will be nearly six. At that time we will have completed at least nine major installations both in Australia and overseas, a well as many smaller ones in Victoria.  We will have made, collected and processed some 370,000 poppies, onto nets, stems, strings and pins, spawned a plethora of 5000 Poppies inspired projects all over the world and connected many thousands of people of all ages from 2 to 102 from many different cultural backgrounds through our tribute.

Marg and I always knew that what we started was special … you all know the story … in my heart it was about my dad … and for Marg … it was about her dad … so it was ALWAYS going to be special. But, wow … the response from the community was so immediate and so very, very powerful. And now 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 …

And if you had asked me how it would end up when we started out in 2013 … we simply had no way of knowing where it would lead.  Although, once we went public and people started sending us their poppies … I admit we had an inkling that it would be big … but BIG is relative … big compared to what?  And it is … BIG … in so many ways … and that’s part of the beauty of it.

poppies in the Memorial grounds

For those of you have been with us since very early on … firstly making a few poppies and then a few more, and then tagging poppies onto nets for Fed Square and then making stems for Chelsea and then back again to repair and rejuvenate the nets and stems ready for the next installation … and then this year – with our install at the Shrine in November, our Vic RSL commitment and, of course, the AWM installation … it has continued to be a HUGE physical and emotional task that we have undertaken.

We have had a wonderful journey so far.  And it has been hard work … and I know I say it a lot but we are … I am … so grateful for your commitment, your incredible work ethic and most of all your unwavering belief, support and friendship.

For those who have joined us recently, your response has been overwhelming … such an incredibly powerful message of love and respect. It feels so much louder this time for some reason … perhaps because it’s recent and perhaps is because there are so many … such is the depth of feeling for those among our community who have served and those who still serve … and particularly for those who have made the ultimate sacrifice … not forgetting their families.

There is much written about our staggering losses, particularly in World War I. Those who never returned home to their loved ones, and those many many more whose lives were forever changed on so many levels in the aftermath.  A loss is a loss, and each loss leaves a trail of devastation that is handed down from generation to generation.  The wider impact is truly beyond comprehension.

There are few among us whose lives have not been touched by war in some way … and your dedications and stories reflect the impact that War has had on our lives. And THAT is why this tribute is so powerful.

We are a proud and grateful nation.  And this has been our way of saying thank you …

LEST WE FORGET!

So … for our final year in 2018, we have a very big program. The AWM this week has formally announced that 5000 Poppies will install 62,000 of our beautiful handcrafted poppies in the lawns of the Memorial in and around the new Flanders Memorial Garden to commemorate the Centenary of Armistice. 62,000, as we know, reflects the number of brave Australian souls who were lost in World War I …

But while Marg and I have always maintained that this project about all of our servicemen and women, their families and their wider communities … the AWM installation will be a stunning tribute to the fallen of WWI, the perfect centerpiece for the AWM’s Remembrance program to mark the Centenary, and a magnificent finale.  Our installation will be in situ for five weeks from 5 October through to 12 November, and during that time will be enhanced by an evocative curated music selection by Chris Latham, and a light show in the evenings, together with a number of other special events throughout that period.

I urge you to keep your eye on the AWM website and facebook page if you are planning to visit.  I expect there will be many of our Poppy Tribe visiting Canberra during that time … so good to know that you will have a five week window of opportunity.  The expectation is that Remembrance Day 2018 will be huge.  And although it will be a free ticketed event … tickets will be limited, and you will need to apply for tickets when they become available (somewhere around October 2018).

We are also in various stages of planning a couple of other major installations for the Centenary next year … one in Launceston (Tasmania), and two other major installations which are yet to be confirmed.  There will be more on these next year as the stories unfold.  And before all of that, there is Anzac Day.

As always there are many people to thank … I am always terrified of leaving out a name and it is not particularly politic to say you know who you are … but the list is 50,000 plus people long and getting longer every day.  So to all our poppy makers thank you from the bottom of our hearts … we will do you proud.  To all those who show up for everything to help … whether it be sorting mail, sewing on buttons, fixing broken poppies, washing and drying grubby poppies, i-cording, gooping, installing … and the myriad of other tasks … thank you.  To those who run workshops all over the country … and take on the role of collectors … which I still find amazing … thank you.  To the East Malvern RSL … a huge thank you for your continued support … it’s been such a relief to be able to spread out. To our financial backers, our spruikers and everyone in between.  Thank you … no amount of thank you’s will ever be enough.  To Kate … thank you.  To Phillip  who continues to challenge us raise our own bar … thank you.  To my wonderful core team … seriously … I love you all, and consider myself incredibly fortunate to have you in my life.  thank you also to Deb and Meredith who have taken on the task of chronicling our contributors and their dedications (it is not an easy task).  To Taso who created and maintains our logo and marketing materials … literally our face to to world … thank you. And of course to Margie, who, despite her early misgivings about how out of control a project like this might (and did) get … said let’s do it.

So, as we close out 2017 … I wish you all a truly wonderful Christmas filled with your favourite people and much, much joy.  Relax and enjoy the break because when we resume on 23 January next year … it will be all hands on deck for our final year.

With love and gratitude

Lynn

 

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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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