This project started as a small idea by two Australian ladies to honour their soldier fathers. Lynn Berry and Margaret Knight set out to crochet 120 poppies to lay at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne for Remembrance Day 2013.
Three years later, this became one of the most popular attractions at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show when it was laid in the newly opened-up area in front of the Royal Hospital.
What happened in between is an inspiring story of faith and dedication. So many poppies were crocheted and knitted that this became the 5000 Poppies project and, in March 2015, the designer Phillip Johnson was brought on-board. Phillip is best known at Chelsea for his Gold Medal and Best-in-Show winning 2013 Trailfinders Australian Garden, so he had plenty of experience of creating a stunning display.
The 26,000 handmade poppies on display at Chelsea represented over half a million hours of labour. These include 1200 contributed by the UK community knitting group ‘Knitting for Victory’. Some are personalised with material taken from a nurse’s uniform, others with tunic buttons from WW1 and a few with the name of a loved one. There are different coloured centres in the poppies to represent different losses, including soldiers, medics, horses and other animals.
The poppies had to be sown onto matting for transportation, but this huge weight was going to prove expensive to move until major sponsors, the Queensland Government and Quantas stepped in to help. The airline flew the 35 cubic metres of cargo, which was around half the cargo hold of an A3 Airbus, to the UK free of charge. Their only request was that if the poppies got wet, they were dried out before they needed to go anywhere else!
The group aim to take the poppies to France as the WW1 commemorations continue, if they can raise the funds.
You can find out more about the project and see a pattern to create your own poppy on Facebook 5000 Poppies.
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