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.
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.
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.
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.