Good morning … and compliments of the season to you all.
It’s been quite a wild ride over the last 3 years plus for Marg and I … and it’s only really in the last week or so that we’ve actually taken a moment to sit back and reflect on what we’ve achieved. The last two years in particular have flown by in the blink of an eye …
So we have put together this end of 2016 message for you … together with a bunch of images on YouTube so you can see the last couple of years in review. I think this is the longest post I have written … so bear with me.
See it also on YouTube 5000 Poppies … a pictorial review of the journey to date
Firstly, from the bottom of our hearts we want to thank all of you for your incredible commitment to our wonderful little community project … it’s been amazing … so many thousands of contributors along with so many angels who appeared to us at just the right time to make this happen … I call us collectively the Poppy Tribe.
So, not in any particular order … thank you to all of you who donated money to help cover our costs, all who donated space for us to work in, in particular Morris and Sons and the City of Melbourne (there were many others), all who made poppies and donated their valuable time, advice, contacts, and support … you know who you are and you know that we value each and every one of you.
A very special mention to the teams who went above and beyond to pull firstly the Fed Square installation together, and then came back to help us to pull the Chelsea stems and nets together … without all of you we would not have managed … It was worth every second … every splinter and every painful stabbing with the tagging guns – we’ve laughed, we’ve cried and we’ve shared a very special moment in time. It’s been an honour and it’s not over yet!
Fed Square who were with us at the start the whole thing.
Our major sponsor for our sojourn to Chelsea … the Victorian Government through the Minister for Veterans Affairs John Eren and the Premier Daniel Andrews, together with our partners Qantas, Carpet Call and the Victorian RSL who got us there and home again.
The Australian Government through the Minister for Veterans Affairs Dan Tehan together with our lovely private benefactor and Neil Mitchell 3AW who found the money for us to get to Fromelles.
The amazing Phillip Johnson (our very own energiser bunny) and the unbelievable Vaughn Greenhill who made it all go so smoothly … along with the rest of the PJL team.
The incredible Ted Baillieu, our unofficial patron who loves this project as much as we do and who has supported, spruiked and cajoled on our behalf for the last three years.
The teams who volunteered in Chelsea and Fromelles … you are the most incredibly special people and to all those that weren’t able to come along but sat at home waiting in the middle of the night for updates … all I can say is wow!!!!
Every single one of those community organisations and individuals who collected, made poppies, ran workshops and sent us poppies … it was so much bigger than we expected and you did an amazing job.
Australian Country Spinners for the yarn for our stems … they looked amazing in Chelsea and especially in Fromelles.
All of those strangers who came out of nowhere to help us … including Paul Ritchie who secured the help of the MFB who saved us in Melbourne, and then found us a huge space at JAYCO Caravans to dry the nets … all the people who helped us to pull together the Fed Square install … Sue and Adrian Egglestone who designed and built Gratitude, the stunning sculpture that stood at the head of our display in Melbourne … the 60 plus people who turned up to help us with packup in Chelsea, our friend Chris Prior who secured the help of the French Rotarians from district 1520 who saved our bacon in Fromelles, and the gorgeous smiling Danielle Aurich who organised them for us … and who could forget Millie and her family … we feel humbled and blessed.
Neil Mitchell at 3AW, Graham Ross at Better Homes and Gardens, Nick McCallum at Channel 7, and the rest of the amazing media who shared our story far and wide.
David Brooks who fell in love with us in Chelsea and never left and has been doing a video chronicle of our journey ever since … looking forward to the movie David.
Sheena and Steve Waddell who temporarily stored our finished nets because we had simply run out of room in my house.
Marilyn Healy our team photographer who kept everyone engrossed with her amazing image diary.
Susan McDougall for organising our stemmed poppy teams … it was a stupendous effort!
The team at Four Colman Getty … Truda, Rosie and Arthur, and Kristoff at Zing for your quiet and efficient work behind the scenes.
Alexander Downer and his team at Australia House for hosting us in London … it was a VERY special moment for the whole team.
Claire Golding and her team at Tourism Victoria in London.
The Royal Horticultural Society and the Royal Hospital Chelsea … the images speak for themselves.
Taso Katsionis from AK-D Design for all his wonderful design work, support and advice.
Alex Makin and the team at Syneka Marketing who put together the video for our unsuccessful attempt at crowdfunding. In the end we crowdfunded it privately and it worked a treat.
A special mention to our wonderful families and friends who have supported us all the way.
Kate for the bread!!!!
A huge thank you to our wonderful dads – Wal and Stan – who were and are our personal heroes … they would be so proud … if not a little bemused by all the fuss!!!!
There are many, many others who we could name … the list is absolutely endless … forgive us if we haven’t singled you out.
And finally, thank you most of all to those who are serving or have served, those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice, and particularly those whose service has changed their lives irrevocably, their families and their communities … we do not forget!!
We are all family now!
So … here are a few quite interesting bits and highlights for us
5000 poppies has been more than three years in the making with an estimated 50,000 contributors and one million plus woman and man hours … We are still going!!!
- 300,000 plus poppies in total
- 26,500 stems
- 80 – 10m x 1m nets which we have worked on continuously for nearly two years
- 12 – 2m x 1m nets which consist of felted, fabric and paper poppies
- 6,000 poppies on strings
- Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show 2015 … 5000 stems
- Fed Square Anzac Day Melbourne 2015 – 257,000 plus poppies
- Princes Bridge Anzac Day Melbourne 2015 – 200,000 plus poppies
- RHS Chelsea Flower Show London 2016 – approx 300,000 poppies (we lost count)
- Centenary of the Battle of Fromelles France 2016 – approx 26,000 stems
- The Spirit of Anzac Centenary Experience which has been touring Australia for the past two years … such a beautiful tribute
Our poppy makers are aged from 2 to 102 … we think that is amazing in itself … it has brought whole communities of poppy makers together. There are many stories attached to the poppies and we are slowly uploading these to the blog. It’s my Christmas wish that we get to have all of that completed early in 2017.
5000 poppies has been awarded best horticultural installation for 2016 by a country mile Graeme Ross 2GB Click on the link for the entire interview with our Phil … skip to 56.40.
We have been involved in many other smaller installations over the last three years, and there are also hundreds if not thousands of localised 5000 poppies inspired installations all over the world.
There have been countless favourite moments … spectacular community connections … and many new friendships formed.
Chelsea was huge.
There were 60 million viewers for the Chelsea display alone across all media.
It is the biggest display ever at the RHS Chelsea flower show (we’ve given them a headache I think).
It is also the first time the Flower Show has connected with the Royal Hospital in this way (they loved us and we loved them).
It’s the very first time all the Royal Family have visited any one stand at Chelsea (they were incredibly gracious), and it’s the first time Lynn and Marg have met Her Majesty (second time for Phillip).
The amazing British crowds, the celebrities who also visited and the fantastic British press welcomed us with open arms, and a huge willingness to wait patiently and with great humour to see us.
Verena Tucker and Sara Davies from the British knitting group Knitting for Victory made and planted 1200 stems of their own … we loved that.
Lynn did a speech at Australia house which she wrote in the taxi on the way there!!!
Marg is famous for her moment in the sun with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
Kate won best photo award for her photo bomb with Prince Harry.
We thought our Tim was going to faint when he met Johnson Beharry (VC winner).
Prince Harry waved to the rest of the Poppy team who were in the bleachers … which was kinda spectacular.
Fromelles was amazing. We are so grateful for the opportunity to be at Fromelles … the French locals, the local Rotary Clubs and the busloads of visitors … it was very humbling and we will never forget the early morning photoshoot with the full moon setting of one side, the mist over the fields and the dew on the poppies … I swear the spirits of our boys were with us that morning!
We are still making poppies here for the Victorian RSL who supported us in our campaign to get to Chelsea and Fromelles. We are making 50,000 poppies to sell for the 2018 Poppy Appeal so please feel free to keep making. We hope to raise between half a million and a million dollars for the RSL. That’s VERY exciting.
We have a few smaller installations coming up in 2017 … but our last major installation at this stage is planned for the Australian War Memorial in Canberra and again we are working with Phillip to create something spectacular.
In closing, from our families to your families we wish you a very Merry Christmas, a safe and happy time with families and friends and a spectacular 2017.
With love … Lynn and Marg xx