On the 11th November 1921, the first silk poppies were sold to the public in commemoration of those who had fallen during the Great War. Almost one hundred years later, millions of poppies continue to be made, sold and worn in the UK in order to remember those lost in conflict since 1914, and to raise money to support the armed forces community. Richmond has been the site of poppy manufacturing since 1925. Major George Howson MC, who had served on the Western Front, established his factory with the purpose of employing wounded veterans to produce the commemorative poppy. Inspired by the sight of poppies growing in the battle torn fields of France, where friends and colleagues had fallen in 1915, a Lt. Col. John McCrae wrote his poem ‘In Flanders Fields’. Today, the factory employs ex-service men and women and has grown into a specialist employability charity for disabled veterans. Tours are offered to the public of the working factory. At a small table, visitors are invited to have a go at making their own poppy, with one crucial instruction. The poppy must be made using either only the one hand, or with eyes closed. A small and cleverly shaped wood block allows disabled employees to quickly put together a poppy – a tool used even in the early days of the Factory.
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