Onwards and Upwards

Good morning all …

This week marks another milestone in our progress towards our goal of 50,000 beautiful handmade poppies for Remembrance Day 2018 for the RSL.

It’s quite a journey … for all of us.  But in reality, it’s no different to the journey we have been on since Marg and I started 5000 Poppies in 2013.  It’s still about Remembrance and love and honour … and always about community and caring and giving back.

We are loving all the different styles of poppies we are receiving at Poppy Headquarters (RSL East Malvern) … so many talented, creative people making beautiful heartfelt creations.  Packing is always a little bittersweet because it means letting go … and if you think letting go of your 10, 20, 50, 100, 1000 poppies that you have lovingly crafted with your own hands is hard work when you send them to me … our celebration at reaching each milestone is tinged with a little (but not too much) sadness as well … and its a huge wrench to send off those boxes of poppies that you have all so lovingly made.

Occasionally it feels like it’s just about the numbers because the task is so large … so we need to break it down to milestones … just to manage.  But then we remind ourselves of all of the good that our poppies will do for OUR Veterans’ welfare and we are thankful for the opportunity to do our part with the skills that we have.

And that is the joy!!!

So… we have now pinned and packed 15,000 plus poppies, with 10,000 already delivered we are now halfway towards our next 10,000 delivery …

Our deadline for poppies is April 2018 … to give the RSL time to pack and distribute in time for Remembrance Day 2018 …

I cannot wait to see a sea of handmade poppies next year as the RSL rolls them out.

Keep those beautiful poppies coming.

If you want you can join our 5000 Poppies 2018 Poppy Appeal Challenge on facebook.  We are at the end of Week 4, with 36 weeks to go before deadline.  This is not a competition, it is merely a way for us to keep tabs on the number of poppies that are being made.

Send your completed poppies to P.O. Box 115, Ashburton Vic 3147, or you can drop to any of the addresses on the blog.

The latest RSL Patterns are also on the blog … they are a more compact hybrid of the original patterns designed to be worn.

Love your work!!!







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One Hundred and One Years On!

Today is the 101st Anniversary of the Battle of Fromelles.

A year ago, we were so privileged to be in Fromelles to commemorate the Centenary of the Battle, and those Australian and other lives lost or forever changed.

From the website of the Shrine of Remembrance Melbourne

 The Battle of Fromelles was fought on the 19th of July, 1916. It was planned as a diversionary attack to prevent German troops moving from this, a relatively quiet area, to the large battle being fought in the valley of the Somme. Fromelles was a bloody disaster. The attack by brave men from the largely untried 5th Australian Division was utterly destroyed by determined Bavarian troops who were well dug in and with large numbers of machine guns. Australian bravery and training was no match for this stubborn defence using all the advantages of German technology.

The attack remains the single bloodiest 24 hours in Australian history. By the morning of the 20th of July 1916, Australia had suffered an incredible 5522 killed, wounded, missing or taken prisoner. Many stories of bravery and humanity emerged from the carnage including that of Victorian farmer Sergeant Simon Fraser, who, after the battle, could not resist the suffering of the wounded and embarked on many perilous trips into no-man’s-land, the area between the German and Allied lines, to bring men to safety. One soldier cried after Fraser “Don’t forget me, Cobber” and it is from this that the memorial statue’s name is derived.

Image result for german front line fromelles map

A large number of the dead could not be recovered from the battlefield until after the war. Time having taken its toll on their remains, they are simply ‘missing’. The mystery of their fate has been an ongoing, multi-generational horror for their families. Many families gained some relief when a mass-burial site was found near Fromelles and exhumed. It yielded the lost remains of 250 soldiers killed during the Battle of Fromelles who were reburied in individual graves in 2010, their dignity and in the case of many, their identity was restored.

These days, when you look across that beautiful French rural landscape from the German front line (Cobbers) to VC Corner … you can see that our brave troops never stood a chance.  It’s hard to reconcile the hell they suffered with the peace and beauty of the site today.





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The Challenge is ON!!!

I am told by a reliable source … not to mention any names … that it is approx 40 weeks until 1 April 2018.

That being established … and as we have collected approx 12,500 to date … we have approx 40 weeks to make a further 37,500 poppies for our RSL poppies … to make 50,000 beautiful made with love handcrafted poppies for the 2018 Poppy Appeal … to help raise money for Veterans welfare.

So while that looks and feels like a lot of work … in fact said source has broken it down further for me.

If we can get a team of 40 makers to commit to 23.5 poppies per week for 40 weeks (can we round that up?) … the job will be done.

Of course, the more poppies we get the better … because we are also collecting for our fantastic Centenary of WWI installation for Remembrance Day 2018 at the Australian War Memorial.

So … here is the rub.

We are asking you to join our committed group of poppy makers for this challenge … Phone a friend or friends or a facebook buddy, and do it between you … splitting the effort …  not forgetting that each “team” is committing a minimum of 23.5 poppies per week.  We have started up a separate facebook group so we can do a weekly update of how we are going … all you need to do is post when your weekly challenge has been met.  Each week we will report to the group at large how the tally is going.

Can we do it … yes we can … look what we did last time we tried to do something huge!!!

Sounds like a plan !

Join our facebook group … 5000 Poppies 2018 Poppy Appeal Challenge

Oh and the other thing is :  I have been collecting some really lovely prizes to give away including a stunning Beekeeper Poppy Weekender, in a one only draw on 1 April 2018.  Make sure you include all the names of your contributors when you deliver your poppies to us.

P.S. you don’t have to join the challenge to be in the draw. All of our contributors will be entered … right back to the start. It’s our way of thanking you all for a job well done.

For quick and easy lapel poppies … patterns posted in the patterns section above … but you can use ANY pattern you like.  Maximum size 9 cm.



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Moving right along …

The last couple of weeks have seen us still reminiscing about our London visit last year with Facebook bringing up memory after memory … I am still pinching myself … it was such a surreal experience meeting the Queen and the rest of the Royal Family, and I expect one that will never be repeated.  The thing that I still marvel about is how the British public really got the whole sentiment behind our wonderful installation and how respectful and incredibly patient they were given the huge crowds we had visit the installation.

One of my most treasured memories is of meeting the last VC recipient Johnson Beharry and his wife … he is such a humble man, and it was such an honour for all of us but especially for our resident ex-Army team member Tim Lewis who has military blood running through his veins.

However, here we are, just over a year later and our focus is now firmly on the future … with two HUGE projects coming up over the next year … 50,000 poppies for the RSL for their 2018 Poppy Appeal next year and our super huge grand finale installation at the Australian War Memorial for the Centenary of the end of WWI on Remembrance Day 2018.

And so, we are looking to recruit as many poppy makers as we can to the cause.

So if you are itching to get on board … we would love to have you.  We have developed a couple of really simple, very quick knit and crochet patterns which will have you addicted in absolutely no time … we will publish them to the blog in the next few days.

Poppy on!


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One year on from Chelsea …

This week marks the first anniversary of our sojourn to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show … and our appointment with Queen Elizabeth II … One year ago to the day we walked onto this amazing site to start work on what was to be a spectacular installation.  We were both elated and exhausted after a full on year of rehabilitating the nets following the torrential rain in Melbourne on Anzac Day 2015 … a herculean effort by anyone’s standards.  Plus there was the making of an additional 20,000 poppies on stems by an incredibly dedicated team of stem specialists all over Australia and in the UK.

It feels like a year … and it feels like it was yesterday.

And I still marvel at how this lovely little community project projected itself into the lives of so many wonderful people … who took up the gauntlet and made it their own.

5000 Poppies had become a project with two sides to the story essentially bound by its original purpose.  To honour our servicemen and women, their families and their communities … AND the galvanising of community working with incredible heart and commitment towards a common purpose.

It’s astounding on so many levels.

So .. a lot has happened since Chelsea … and we are now (still) working towards 2018 … creating an additional 50,000 lapel poppies for the RSL … AND creating another amazing installation with Phillip and his team … this time for the Australian War Memorial to commemorate the Centenary of the end of the Great War.

What a beautiful evolving  and meaningful work of art we have all created … full of love and honour and respect and remembrance.


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Anzac Week has come and gone in a blur … the one day of year when our New Zealand cousins across the ditch and Australia collectively honour all servicemen and women for their service and sacrifice. It’s a solemn day of remembrance for many of us … and an opportunity to say thank you to those who have served.

We were lucky enough to again have the opportunity to support the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir with their program Requiem on Anzac night … the program was so incredibly moving and St Paul’s Cathedral looked stunning all decked out in our beautiful poppies.

We also created a wonderful display at PHQ – the East Malvern RSL for the Dawn Service … despite the rain it was a beautiful backdrop for the service and the breakfast to follow.

I also had a wonderful opportunity to talk to the Children at Lloyd Street School where my son went to school many years ago.  The children were lovely and made their own wreaths to honour our Anzacs.  So gorgeous and oh so intimidating … all those expectant faces!

And … we held a lovely poppy catch up in Federation Square … It was so much fun to be able to talk to people including many of our veterans about the project.  We may have even garnered a few new knitters/crocheters.   Anzac Day in the city centre is always so special, and I loved catching up with many of the team.

I should also add that in honour of our Anzacs, the Australian Embassy in France planted a stunninghttps://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FAustralieEnFrance%2Fvideos%2F748686835311972%2F&show_text=0&width=560“> 2,500 poppies left in France from our visit to Fromelles last year …. that’s a bit exciting

And our wonderful Rotary Friends at Armentieres in France created two stunning displays at Anzac Day services at the cimetery Cité Bonjean France, the Toronto cemetery in Ploegsteert, Belgium (Australian graves of the Hill 60) and the ceremony for the New Zealanders, also in Ploegsteert. The Poppy carpet was made by our French Rotarian (District 1520) friends. Beautiful.


And Hornsby Shire Council created a fabulous wall of poppies which looked amazing.

And these fabulous installations posted by Maureen York in Darwin on our Facebook page.

And then there is the Malaysian contingent … Members of the MANZA The Malaysia Australia New Zealand Association Craft Group, as well as staff and spouses from the Australian High Commission and NZ High Commission Kuala Lumpur have been crocheting, knitting and sewing poppies for a banner which will be displayed at the Kuala Lumpur ANZAC Day ceremony at Tugu Negara Monument and at the Gun Fire breakfast on Anzac Day.  

I love it that our poppy family is growing and growing and that everyone is putting their own stamp on the concept … it’s beautiful to see the many and varies ways our crafty pursuits come together in a wonderful array of Remembrance tributes.

And this week the State Library’s Writing the War Exhibition comes to the Williamstown Library and will be in situ until late June.  It looks like this will be the last outing of this particular exhibition and is well worth a look.  Our beautiful poppies will be playing a cameo role for the duration of the exhibition.

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What’s coming up at PHQ and beyond

Howdy all …

Life continues on at a pace at PHQ in Melbourne.

While our focus has been on creating 50,000 new poppies for the RSL for their annual Poppy Appeal in 2018 … we are also working towards our stem quota for our grand finale spectacular at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra for Remembrance Day 2018.  All exciting stuff, and all consuming in so many ways.  So if you are thinking about making poppies for us for either of these projects … we would absolutely love it!!

However, in the meantime, there will be workshops and talks and making and chatting and enjoying the comraderie of working towards a pair of common (if rather lofty) goals.

If you are Melbourne based, we meet regularly at the East Malvern RSL … Tuesdays and Thursdays most weeks (although there will be some disruption to the timetable in April so keep your eyes on the facebook group) from 10.00 until 3.30ish.  You are welcome to join us anytime … lunch is always great.  And, until June, second Monday of the month at Fed Square from 12.00 til 2.00 p.m.  More will be announced soon.

It occurs to me that together we are an incredible force to be reckoned with … and we’ve already shown what we can achieve on a micro and at a macro level.  Amazing things.  Amazing friendships.  Tentacles of connection to past and present … reaching out into our community and bringing us all together to create such wonderful far reaching works.  How proud we should all be.  Waxing lyrical here lol

So … with that in mind I want to tell you about another wonderful project with heart that’s reaching out into the community.  Grounded in love and connection on so many levels and achieving the most amazing things … The Baby Trees Project and Beekeeper Parade.

I have to say, I have never, in my life, been so awestruck by an individual as I am by Koky Saly … chief beekeeper at Beekeeper Parade. I have written about Beekeeper before on this blog … so I won’t go through it all again … however if you are Melbourne based (and even if you are not) you now have the opportunity to hear Koky talk live about his background, his project(s), his vision and the inspiration behind it all … and believe me when I say, you will be so inspired by this man and his vision … this is pure heart stuff … so PLEASE register right now …

Oh and by the way … lucky me (no pressure) and two other awe inspiring and equally magnetic individuals Bec Scott (Streat) and Chris Cincotta (Humans in Melbourne) get share our equally inspiring stories on the same stage as Koky … in the hope that we can ignite the spark that encourages you to follow your dreams …

Fantastic stuff

Book now : Tickets here

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