Well … Anzac Day came and went for us in the blink of an eye … time is moving at a pace and we are now into the final five months of creating this very special tribute for the Australian War Memorial in honour of those 62,000 brave Australian souls who fought and died in WWI.
Right back at the start of 5000 Poppies it was our wish to create something special for each tribute we have done over the last five years … moulding our vision to the site we have available. And I think we have achieved that aim. And I must say … although you won’t have an opportunity to see it until it’s completed for our launch on 5 October … the Australian War Memorial installation will be the very best yet. Imagine if you can … immersing yourself in the middle of a field of 62,000 beautiful poppies … knowing that every single one is filled to the brim with love, honour and respect. It gives me goosebumps every time I think about it.
So as the countdown continues … you really need to be thinking about booking your Canberra visit to coincide with the installation which will run from 5 October through to 11 November. It will be beautiful.
It’s hard to fathom the amount of work involved in pulling it all together … but I recently published some background on facebook … which astounded even me … and I’d like to share it here on our blog … for posterity.
Marg and I started making poppies in March 2013 as a personal project to honour our fathers’ war service in WWII.
We went public June 2013 with the 5000 Poppies Project
We officially launched in Fed Square Melbourne on Remembrance Day 2013 with exactly 5000 poppies (I think we underestimated the interest it would generate).
By December 2013 we had approx 25,000 poppies
By December 2014 we had approx 125,000 poppies
By Anzac Day 2015 we had approx 257,000 poppies for our multifaceted Fed Square installation marking the Centenary of Anzac
In May 2016 more than 300,000 poppies went to Chelsea Flower and Garden Show to visit the Queen and caught up with Dr Brendan Nelson who asked us to create an installation at the AWM for the Centenary of Armistice
We had also agreed to make 50,000 poppies for the Vic RSL for the Poppy Appeal 2018 as a “thank you” for their financial assistance in getting our project across to Europe in 2016
By February 2018 we had completed the 50,000 and were well on the way to completing our collection for AWM installation.
Today we have collected in total well over half a million poppies and spawned thousands of poppy projects all over the world
But thats not the half of it
Each poppy takes an average of 2 hours to make, sort and process, either onto nets or stems or put pins on for lapels
Thats one million hours right there
That doesn’t include the COUNTLESS hours of icord making, stem stuffing and gooping, checking, rechecking, repairing, reworking, installing, deinstalling, transporting and the myriad of other tasks that go into a project of this magnitude
All just stats, but impressive nonetheless.
And the reason I find all this most impressive … ALL of this work has been done by thousands of volunteers all over the world … our volunteers pay for their own materials and postage … and have shared yarn with their crafty brothers and sisters when red yarn was in short supply for a while across the nation, and they have formed satellite groups … new communities and new friendships … all out of working towards a common purpose … I just LOVE that.
But there is the other, underlying and ultimately more important thing about this project …. and that is that it shows the DEPTH and BREADTH of gratitude, and of love, honour and respect that our nation holds for our veterans past, present and future. LEST WE FORGET indeed!
So we are now winding down our poppy collection and are concentrating on the assembly of poppies for the AWM installation … and all of the other activities related to the staging of a unique event of this nature, as well as a number of other major installations happening around the country.
For the moment though, the 62,000 poppies on stems is our major focus. It is a BIG commitment and it takes a huge village to create something of this magnitude. And there are many people to thank (which will take forever). So today I start with those teams who have taken up the gauntlet and re-established themselves to “get the job done” for this massive installation.
Not in any particular order … our Canberra team … formed when we originally announced our involvement with the AWM … so a fairly new “team” although a number of team members have been involved with the project from right back in 2013 when we started. I am sure they had no idea of the magnitude of the task when they took it on but have been amazing in their ability to step up each time the task grew to a whole new level. So congratulations to Ledy Rowe and her magnificent team of poppy makers for their contribution. And a huge vote of thanks to Poppy’s Cafe at the War Memorial for allowing us the use of their space several times a month for our poppy making escapades.
The Mornington Peninsula group have been with us from the start back in 2013 in various guises, and have been working out of the Mornington Library for some time now. Led by Carol Copp and assisted by Judi McKinna, the MP group have been amazing contributors, both of poppies and of completed stems for all of our installations over the last five years and have been involved in many of our larger installs. It’s been humbling to have these ladies and gents working with us and “showing up” when we needed help.
The Mooroolbark/Kilsyth team led by Anne Bryan have been meeting weekly for a long time at Allan’s Bakery and Cafe in Kilsyth. For a small team, their output has been amazing and they have engaged the local community beautifully. So a huge thank you to the team at Allan’s Bakery for their contribution and to the staff at Allan’s Bakery for their commitment.
Our Gippsland team led by Nadine Greenaway for the last couple of years, and Pauline Jephcott prior to that. They have again, been with us almost from the start, and a large part of our i-cording for the stemmed poppies has come through Nadine, not to mention the thousands and thousands of poppies they have made, and the stems they have stuffed and neatened. It’s truly mind boggling.
Again, as I am typing this, my mind wanders back to the sheer volume of work that these teams do on our behalf week in … week out. It is phenomenal.
There are also our Morris and Sons and Granny Squares groups run by Susan McDougall who have made poppies, created kilometres of icord and, and stuffed an neatened countless stems ready for our poppies to be attached … again. Susan managed our stem making teams across Victoria for our planting at the Chelsea Flower Show (26,000 stems in three months) and has gone on to run workshops at both Morris and Sons CBD and Granny Square Richmond and a number of other locations almost from the start … such an incredible labour of love.
Keep an eye on this space as the countdown continues …
With love and much much much gratitude.