What began as a small personal tribute by Lynn Berry and Margaret Knight to honour their fathers who both fought in World War II, has become an international tribute of respect and remembrance to those who have served in all wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations, their families and their communities.
The pair set out to crochet a humble 120 poppies to “plant” at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne Australia for Remembrance Day in 2013 in honour of their fathers Wal Beasley (14/32nd Battalion – Australian Imperial Forces) and Stan Knight (Queen’s Own West Kent Regiment – British Army)
It was this simple tribute of love and honour that sparked a massive community outpouring with an estimated 50,000 plus contributors to the project and hundreds of smaller localised tributes throughout Australia, New Zealand and beyond.
Nearly one million stunning handcrafted poppies have been contributed from all over the world to the 5000 Poppies Project, and contributors include children as young as two, right through to people aged 102, and from many different backgrounds and cultures.
In March 2015, 5000 Poppies teamed up with Australia’s premier landscape designer Phillip Johnson to create a stunning tribute garden at the Melbourne Flower and Garden Show.
For Anzac Day 2015, 5000 Poppies again teamed up with Phillip to create a spectacular tribute on the steps of Melbourne’s Federation Square and on Princes Bridge. The installation provided an emotional backdrop for the commencement of Melbourne’s Centenary of Anzac commemorations.
In May 2016, the entire tribute was a highlight of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in London. Many thousands flocked to the installation in the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea, including Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and many of the Royal Family. They were astounded at this simple tribute of love, honour and respect.
The simple, elegant design for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show included over 300,000 (2,000 sq metres) of handcrafted poppies, including 1200 stems contributed by women from the UK community knitting group “Knitting for Victory”.
In July 2016, 26,000 stemmed poppies were “planted” at the Cobbers Memorial in Fromelles France to commemorate the Centenary of the Battle of Fromelles. A highlight for us. Visitors to the site could not help but be moved by the simple sentiment of the tribute.
There have also been hundreds if not thousands of 5000 Poppies inspired tributes throughout Australia and overseas for the duration of the Centenary of WWI and beyond.
In 2016, 5000 Poppies left 3000 beautiful poppies with the our wonderful friends at Rotary District 1520 and a further 3000 with the Australian Ambassador in France to use throughout 2017 for significant commemorations on the Western Front. They have been planted at a number of sites including the commemorations for two significant battles in Belgium .. the Battle of Hill 60 and The Battle of Polygon Wood.
For Remembrance Day 2017, we were privileged to take our installation to the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne … a very big one on my personal wish list with my father’s battalion’s tree (14/32nd AIF) in Anzac Avenue at the Shrine. It was beautiful, poignant and very very special.
Our magnificent installation of 62,000 beautiful handcrafted poppies at the Australian War Memorial for five weeks leading up to the end of the Centenary of Anzac.
We also created two separate and quite different installations for Australia’s Parliament House in Canberra to complement our installation at the Australian War Memorial.
2018 was a mammoth year for the 5000 Poppies team. In amongst all of the major installations our wider team helped to create more than 50,000 handmade poppies for the Victorian RSL for their 2018 Poppy Appeal …
In 2019, “A Nation Weeps” the original concept for the 5000 Poppies Project, was installed at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne for the Centenary of the first Armistice Day in 1919. A stunning installation, A Nation Weeps reflects on the depth of loss and grief suffered by so many at that incredibly difficult time in our Nation’s history.
5000 Poppies has been a six year labour of love for many thousands of people. The project has been more than two million hours of volunteer labour in the making, and is a stunning acknowledgement of the service and sacrifice of our servicemen and women, their families and their communities … and we have loved every minute of it.
East Malvern RSL in Melbourne, Victoria is still home to the 5000 Poppies team. If you would like to join us, we currently work from 10.30 a.m. to 2.30 p.m. on most Thursdays in the Flanders Room on the ground floor. Check the facebook group page for more information. We also continue to meet as a group on the second Monday of each month at Fed Square in the heart of Melbourne from 12.00 midday for a couple of hours of coffee, camraderies and crafting. All welcome.
There are many many people to thank :
First and foremost our contributors and our incredible volunteers … some 50,000 wonderful contributors from all over the world … all ages and cultures, who have helped us and continue to help us with poppy making, assembling, distribution, planting, unplanting and storing. It is an amazing accomplishment and we are justifiably proud of what we have created in tribute.
Phillip Johnson and his team at Phillip Johnson Landscapes have been instrumental in the success of the project both in Australia and overseas. Phillip’s simple, elegant designs for all of our major installation have brought our poppies to life.
Our major sponsor, the Victorian Government must be congratulated for its vision in providing the funding to enable us to take the entire installation to Chelsea. This is not a small undertaking and without a significant grant through the Department of Veterans Affairs, Chelsea would still be just a dream for us.
We also have a number of key supporters who have provided much needed assistance throughout the project.
We are incredibly grateful to RSL Victoria who are also right behind the project with a significant grant.Carpet Call Australia is donating approx 300 sq metres of beautiful red carpet for the centre of the installation … one we live in hope that the Queen will do us the honour of walking on.
The Australian Government who along with one very generous private benefactor and with the incredible help of Neil Mitchell at 3AW funded our sojourn to Fromelles.
And we also owe a huge debt of gratitude to our graphic designer who has been unstinting in his support for the project from day one … with our logo and all of our marketing collateral. Taso you are a genius and you have done and continue to do an amazing job for us.
Postal address : 5000 Poppies, P.O. Box 115, Ashburton 3147
email : firstname.lastname@example.org
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