Thank you … our Christmas message to you all

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.

5000 Poppies 2013-2016 in Review from Lynn Berry on Vimeo.

See it also on YouTube 5000 Poppies … a pictorial review of the journey to date

Thank You

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

Major installations

  • 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.

Ted Baillieu is on record as saying that 5000 Poppies is the most significant community art installations ever created in Australia. Click on the link for Ted’s interview with Graeme Ross.

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

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Our beautiful poppies have had a busy couple of weeks …


Remembrance is well and truly alive but it is changing … according to this article on Remembrance in the Digital Age by Historian Tom Sear Published in the Conversation.  Tom writes about how digital technology has changed the way we commemorate … that we are more connected than ever through social media and it allows us to share our thoughts, feelings, images, communal mourning in a more immediate way.

He writes … “While the rituals of Remembrance Day seem unchanging, in truth, they are being transformed in our contemporary connected culture. On the first Remembrance Day, people who had experienced World War I firsthand stood together in a single silence filled with private, personal memories of pain and loss. They knew the person next to them was doing the same, but not what was in their thoughts.

Today, the internet offers a chance to personalise our commemoration by choosing when, where and how we take part. We can listen to a recorded two minutes’ silence anytime. A selfie taken in a yoga studio and tagged #RemembranceDay is our modern day equivalent of standing still in the factory or the parlour. We are keen to be seen joining in, and can watch and respond in real time to how others are marking the occasion. Online chatter, and frequently debate about the meaning of war, breaks through the silence.”

Certainly in this period of intense Remembrance activity as the Centenary of Anzac (2014-2018)  and its attendant ceremonies and services play out in the various theatres … more and more people are finding their own way(s) to honour our servicemen and women for their service and sacrifice.

And so, it has been a busy couple of weeks for us at PHQ … we have had a lovely time with loaning out our babies for small and not so small installations around Melbourne.

Firstly … Moonee Valley Racing had a twilight race meet with a remembrance theme on 11 November.  Veterans and RSL members were given free entry and the RSL was busy selling poppies as part of their annual Poppy Appeal.  It was a fun night.  5000 Poppies helped in the pre-promotion of the evening with an installation on the course at Moonee Valley … with echoes of an iconic photo from post WWI.


Photo from Herald Sun 2016

We were also involved in a fantastic installation down at the RAAF Airbase at Point Cook (Melbourne) in commemoration of the Centenary of the Australian Flying Corps.  Such an honour to be involved.


Point Cook AFC Centenary 2016


Point Cook AFC Centenary 2016

Our very own esteemed videographer David E Books Esq. made us a video of the day.  You can view it by clicking here.

There were countless other 5000 Poppies inspired installations over the Remembrance Day period … small and large … here are a few images.  Every one of these installation is a poignant reminder of those that sacrificed for us.



Alexandra Club Melbourne 2016


East Malvern RSL 2016


Fiona Briggs Lowestoft England


Library Install 2016 … no details


Mooloolah Community Centre Qld 2016


Gippsland Installation 2016 … no details


National Vietnam Veterans Museum Cowes 2016 — Orange Poppies … beautiful


Wal’s Battalion’s Memorial at the Shrine of Remembrance Melbourne 2016 in honour of Wal and Stan


Kylie’s Respite Group 2016


Tumby Bay SA Spin Stitch and Weave Installation 2016


Middle East Service

Did you share your photo with us?

And so … we are still working here.  The poppies strings are being refined with the tags removed and the poppies sewn on … it makes such an amazing difference.

There is ongoing work on the nets although we have slowed down to take a deep breath for a few minutes.

Poppy making has begun again but we will step up the pace early next year so that we can supply 50,000 beautiful handmade gems to the RSL 2018 Poppy Appeal … that will be amazing … we hope to raise well in excess of half a million dollar through sales of our poppies alone.

Work continues on our plans for 2018 at the Australian War Memorial.  We are all very excited about it and plan to make it a fitting finale.

Lynn x

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We have not been idle …

So we have had a small break following what has been a massive three years of very hard work, but we have not been idle.  There is still so much to do before our grand finale at the Australian War Memorial in November 2018.

We have loaned some of our wonderful poppies to the Shire of Wyndham Library to support their current installation of Writing the War exhibition.  So, for those of you who would like to see some of the lovely felted, stitched and fancy poppies … City Life Plaza Library, Pacific Werribee Shopping Centre, Shop MM11, Level 1, Derrimut Road, Werribee until 12 November alongside some fantastic WWI memorabilia from the local RSL.  It looks amazing.

img_5594wyndhamNext step … We are also starting work tomorrow on rehabilitating the nets from their overseas workout.  Hoping that this will be minimal but won’t really know until we get them on the table.  And so it starts all over again …will post dates and details on the facebook group.

In November we will be loaning a selection of stringed and stemmed poppies as well as a few panels to the Point Cook Air Base to support the  Commemoration of the Centenary of the Australian Flying Corps at Point Cook.  These will not be on public display.

untitled-1point-cook untitled-2point-cookWe have also started work on stitching the string poppies … as opposed to tagging.  It’s quite a task …. but worth the effort when you see the result.

We are planning to do a catch up on Remembrance Day this year in Fed Square.  It may not be a formal activity but we are relaunching our poppy drive with a view to creating an additional 50,000 lapel poppies for the Victorian RSL for their 2018 Poppy Appeal.  That’s two years away and I think we can do it easily.  So dust off those crochet hooks and knitting needles, we need your help!!!!  And we are planning to raise well in excess of half a million dollars for the RSL … that would be amazing don’t you think?

And so, just in case you missed what we have achieved over the last few years … here is a visual reminder of a number of the major installations.  There were many, many more.  I never tire of these images.

IMG_0231_0802Remembrance Day 2013
Where it all started … the 14/32nd Australian Infantry Battallion memorial, Shrine of Remembrance Melbourne 2013 in honour of Wal and Stan.

IMG_0213_0783Our official launch installation at Federation Square in November 2013

_F5A1211Phil’s beautiful tribute garden at the Melbourne Flower and Garden Show in 2015

Fed Square Banner PicTHE stunning installation at Federation Square on Anzac Day 2015

anzac-day-march-2015The installation on Princes Bridge … what an honour watching all the marchers march past of tribute to them on Anzac Day 2015

_F5A3804-EditRHS Chelsea Flower Show 2106 … such an amazingly beautiful installation … seen by more than 60 million people all over the worldcobbers-fromelles-france-2016-3-photographer-claire-takacsFromelles France 2016 … the heart and soul … such an honour and a privilege.

It’s been an amazing journey and the journey continues.

Work to do!!!

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Thank you Fromelles …

Well Fromelles was amazing.  Everything we hoped for and so much more.

Fromelles France 2016 1 Photographer Claire Takacs

Image by Claire Takacs

Not as big an installation as we had at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, but still sizeable, and incredibly emotional … and our tribute touched the hearts of all who visited … busloads of Australians, English, French, New Zealanders, Germans … and many more. People from all walks of life … many seeking to connect with distant (and not so distant) family and friends who fought right there … on that ground.  We are so grateful that they stopped to share their stories … it was the icing on the cake.

Cobbers was the perfect spot for us … beautifully compact and right in the middle of all that picturesque French farmland.  The Cobbers memorial is a poignant reminder of our mateship and our commitment and yes our losses … and it is sacred turf for Australians … a battle scarred plot of land … one of many in that part of the world. It is humbling to know that the French don’t forget the Australians … and still welcome us with open arms.

Phillips Fromelles masterpiece

Image by Phillip Johnson

Rural life has resumed, ducks are quacking in the background, crops are growing all around, but there are little reminders everywhere of the hell that it must have been one hundred years ago. It is truly hard to fathom the amount of devastation and loss as you sit among this incredibly beautiful, peaceful vista … especially at sunup when it’s oh so quiet and the dew is on the poppies.  The stunning image above was shot on an iPhone 6 at dawn by our Phillip … Il est beau est-il pas?

The installation was a true community effort.   Phillip Johnson’s amazingly simple, elegant design was perfect in every way.  It’s a mathematical jigsaw puzzle that he makes work on every level … and we cannot thank him enough.  We also could not have done it without the help of all of those wonderful people who came and stayed … and in particular Jean Pierre Engelen, District Gouverneur and Daniele Aurich who marshaled the troops from the local  Rotary District … they shared the load with us, among many others, and it made our workload so much lighter in so many ways.

Planting Poppies with French Rotarians July 2016 at Cobbers Day 2Planting Poppies with French Rotarians July 2016 at Cobbers Day 1So … again, thank you all for the opportunity to have done this … What an adventure we have had … and how privileged we feel to have been part of it.

Here are a couple of links to some of David Brooks’ amazing videos on the Fromelles installation.  There are many more on on both Fromelles and the Chelsea journey on Vimeo … Google search Brooksy Films.

Love Lynn and Marg

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Fromelles France … 100 Years On

What an absolutely amazing day we had yesterday on the first day of our installation in Fromelles. It was, without a doubt for me, THE highlight of my work with this amazing project since we began …

There are some 13 volunteers from Australia who are here with us for the installation including Phil Johnston and Robyn Baillieu … We were joined by 10 or 12 local Rotarians from Bethune Artois and Armentieres who welcomed us with open arms and worked alongside us. There were also quite a few Australians who happened to be in the area who also pitched in. The Australian Forces came and joined us and many many other families from many different countries who also wanted to help. At one stage I estimate maybe 60 people were working with us in the install. We were absolutely amazed at the generosity of spirit they all showed. The ground was hard and it was rather backbreaking work on a hot day in Fromelles.

At one point the Birralee Choir  …  15 gorgeous young people with angelic voices from Queensland Australia joined us … They had been rehearsing down the road at VC Corner for the centenary ceremonies on Tuesday. They sang “In Flanders Fields” … Sitting on a German blockhouse in the middle of our field of poppies … It was a breathtaking moment in time and one we will never forget.  There were a few tears shed.

So … That was our day. You were a big part of it, even though you are not here.

So many people have done their “bit” to get us here to Fromelles … From the poppy makers to those who worked so hard to pull the displays together … To those who supported us financially … To those who spread our message … Its a true team effort … Whole of community … and I am in awe of the power of our team not to mention the power of the message.

And it shows that we will not forget.

Thank you for your support

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The Battle of Fromelles : 19 July 1916


This month, 5000 Poppies along with Phillip Johnson Landscapes will be planting approximately 26,500 of our beautiful stemmed poppies in Fromelles at Australian Memorial Park (Cobbers) as part of the Centenary Commemoration of the Battle of the Somme.

_F5A3074An excerpt from the Australian War Memorial Website :  The battle of Fromelles on 19 July 1916 was a bloody initiation for Australian soldiers to warfare on the Western Front. Soldiers of the newly arrived 5th Australian Division, together with the British 61st Division, were ordered to attack strongly fortified German front line positions near the Aubers Ridge in French Flanders. The attack was intended as a feint to hold German reserves from moving south to the Somme where a large Allied offensive had begun on 1 July. The feint was a disastrous failure. Australian and British soldiers assaulted over open ground in broad daylight and under direct observation and heavy fire from the German lines. Over 5,500 Australians became casualties. Almost 2,000 of them were killed in action or died of wounds and some 400 were captured. This is believed to be the greatest loss by a single division in 24 hours during the entire First World War. Some consider Fromelles the most tragic event in Australia’s history. 

This incredibly poignant installation speaks to the heart of what we have created and why.  And so, again I offer a huge thank you to all of you who have contributed to this wonderful project … every one of your poppies has its own story, and each is a timeless thread of connection to those who have served and sacrificed.  It is an honour and a joy to share those stories with the world on your behalf.

This installation has been made possible through the incredible support of the Victorian RSL and with generous financial assistance from the Australian Government, an anonymous private benefactor and contributions from a funding drive by radio host Neil Mitchell on 3AW. We also want to acknowledge again the assistance of the Victorian Government and Qantas who were instrumental in getting us to Europe in the first place; and again we have a wonderful team from Australia who will help us to make this happen.

We will be installing on 17 and 18 July … the installation will be in situ until 25 July and we will be removing them on 26 July.  We will have a presence at the site most days at least in part if you’d like to call by and say hello if you are in the area.




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Well … Chelsea has come and gone.  And by any measure of success it was a big one.
We managed to chalk up a couple of very big firsts for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show with our wonderful display.  It’s the first time the Show had connected with the Royal Hospital Chelsea in this way, and the first time all the Royals came to visit any one display or stand … we were also the largest display they have ever featured and we had record crowds, and record press coverage.We can put much of the success down to the sheer impact of 300,000 hand crafted red red red poppies in one place at any one time … it was bound to make an impressive visual impact.
And, it would be very easy in light of the impact we have had, to lose sight of what we set out to achieve originally with this project and we are all very keen for that not to happen.First and foremost, the 5000 Poppies project is a spectacular heartfelt tribute, created by the community at large, and much love has gone into its making.  There was no other agenda … just love, honour and respect for our servicemen and women, their families and their communities and the fact that we had such a huge response is a testament to the depth of feeling in the wider community.
It’s been three years in the making and apart from those who have made poppies and sent them to us, there has been a concerted effort of a small team of volunteers who have worked tirelessly to pull the whole thing together (including volunteering their time to come to Chelsea to help with the installation), plus a select team of contributors who have helped us both financially and practically.
We would especially like to thank the Royal Horticultural Society, the Royal Chelsea Hospital, the fantastic Chelsea Pensioners … how we enjoyed their enjoyment of it …. as well as our fantastic major sponsor – the Victorian Government for helping to make our vision a reality.  We would also like to thank our official carriers Qantas for getting us and the poppies there and back, and our friends at Carpet Call, The Victorian RSL, Australian Country Spinners and Grit Communications … what an amazing team.
There are many others to thank … Ted Baillieu, Chairman of the Anzac Centenary Commitee in Victoria and his wife Robyn, the High Commission in London for putting on a wonderful reception for the team, our PR specialists in London – Four Colman Getty and at home – Zing, for their tireless work in getting our message out to the wider community, David Brooks who volunteered his time to make our wonderful videos and is continuing to do so, and of course all of those thousands of people who visited us at Chelsea … what an amazing reception we had.
I am sure you have seen many images over the last weeks … it was a very special installation. Phillip Johnson’s design was brilliant in its simplicity and in the end it was the combination of community spirit, the simple elegant design, the heart of the project and the Royal Hospital backdrop, coupled with the London sunshine and the amazing crowds that lifted it to such heights.
I am incredibly proud and very grateful to the massive team (community) that has given so much to make this project the success it has become, and we want to thank you all for your contribution(s).
I have attached a couple of images of the project for you taken by our photographer Claire Takacs (these images are copyrighted), plus a number of “happy snaps” which is by no means exhaustive.  There are many thousands of images going around the world and deservedly so.
We now working on a quick turnaround before we are off to France to create another poppy installation at the commemoration of the battle of Fromelles.
Our heartfelt thanks to you all for your efforts. You have done an amazing job.
Lynn and Marg
_F5A2864Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with Marg Lynn has a chat to Prince Phillip and Princess Anne Lynn Marg and Phil meet the Queen Lynn Meets Prince Harry Lynn Meets the British Home Secretary Pomp and Ceremony Chelsea Pensioners The Chelsea Team The installation from the hospital _F5A2808  _F5A2965 _F5A4913 _F5A3023-Edit
Lynn and Marg
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