Every autumn, the streets of Britain turn red, with Remembrance poppies being worn commemorating the sacrifices made by veterans and current serving personnel. Charity, The Poppy Factory not only creates the humble poppy, but helps veterans into work.
There’s never a quiet moment at The Poppy Factory in Richmond, London, particularly on the run up to Remembrance Day, with the demand for poppies around the country at its peak.
Factories may conjure up images of machinery and production lines, however this isn’t the case at the Poppy Factory: all poppies, wreaths and Remembrance crosses are carefully handmade by a team of dedicated veterans.
Last year, the team of 24 veterans made over six million poppies, 146,000 wreaths and 780,000 wooden Remembrance symbols.
Nicola Stokes served in the Territorial Army, before joining the RAF for nine years of her Forces career. She has now been working at the Poppy Factory, making wreaths for three years.
“It’s a great working environment,” says Nicola. “I like meeting all the people who come to the factory on tours, and all the famous people who come and visit.”
The factory not only offers veterans a place to work, but also to socialise, and experience some of the camaraderie from their days serving.
This is a very important time of year for us. Just a week until #Remembrance Sunday where Wreaths made by our production team will be laid at the Cenotaph in memory of those who lost their lives.#Veterans from our factory made 130k wreaths this year!https://t.co/Xlzf0pZUiL pic.twitter.com/quv7iSZ4tA
— The Poppy Factory (@PoppyFactory) November 3, 2019
The Poppy Factory was founded in 1922, to provide employment opportunities for veterans injured in the First World War.
Built by Major George Howson MC, a British Army officer in World War I, the factory has continued the legacy and is the official provider of poppies, wreaths and other Remembrance symbols for the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal every November.
“It’s an honour to carry on the tradition, really,” Nicola enthuses. “If it wasn’t for the First World War and later conflicts, we wouldn’t be here remembering those who came and died before us. I take a lot of pride in my work.”
We work all year round to support wounded, injured & sick veterans back into the careers they want, helping to restore their confidence & to regain their financial independence. We couldn't continue our award-winning service without your help, donate today https://t.co/cyADxG9Dzw pic.twitter.com/lbuXEixVgj
— The Poppy Factory (@PoppyFactory) September 27, 2019
For almost 100 years, the charity has carried on its original mission: helping thousands of veterans who have a physical disability or mental health condition, find meaningful employment.
The employability team has consultants working in different areas of the UK, to help you find a role. In 2018, the charity celebrated helping their 1,000th veteran into employment, with their Patron, HRH The Duchess of Cornwall.
In the last 12 months, our support has enabled 310 job starts for #veterans with health conditions. We love to see them flourish in their new career. https://t.co/mV6bkOkFSq#charitytuesday pic.twitter.com/yqZRPFmTme
— The Poppy Factory (@PoppyFactory) October 15, 2019
“There’s a lot of support out there from military charities, you just need to ask,” Nicola encourages.
“The Poppy Factory’s employability team work with wounded, injured and sick veterans across the country to help build on your strengths and find the right employment opportunities.”
From the factory to the high street, each individual poppy is handcrafted by someone who has benefitted from the work the charity does, and is part of the community that benefits from donations, too.
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