11 things you might not know about the poppy

1. The poppy is a symbol of Remembrance and hope

Wearing a poppy is a way of showing public appreciation for the service and sacrifice of the Armed Forces, veterans and their families in safeguarding our freedoms and values.

It represents all those who lost their lives on active service in all conflicts; from the beginning of the First World War right up to the present day. It also honours the contribution of civilian services and the uniformed services which contribute to national peace and security.

2. Wearing a poppy is a personal choice

Wearing a poppy is a personal choice reflecting individual and personal memories.

3. There is no ‘correct’ way to wear a poppy

It’s a matter of personal choice whether someone chooses to wear a poppy and how they choose to wear it. The best way to wear a poppy is simply with pride.

4. The poppy is red because that’s the natural colour of the poppy flower

During the First World War previously beautiful countryside was blasted, bombed and fought over, again and again. The landscape swiftly turned to fields of mud: bleak and barren where little or nothing could grow.

But out of this devastation the delicate but resilient bright red Flanders poppies grew and flourished in their thousands.

5. A poem inspired the use of the poppy as a symbol of Remembrance

Shortly after losing a friend in Ypres in 1915, a Canadian doctor, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae was inspired by the sight of poppies growing in battle-scarred fields to write his now famous poem 'In Flanders Fields'.

The poem inspired American War Secretary, Moina Michael, who bought poppies to sell to her friends to raise money for Servicemen in need after the First World War.

This was adopted by The (Royal) British Legion in 1921 who ordered 9 million of these poppies and sold them on 11 November that year in the first ever Poppy Appeal. The poppy has been adopted as a symbol of Remembrance ever since.

6. Poppies weren’t always sold with leaves

Like the natural flower, the original version of the poppy did not feature a leaf.

A leaf was first introduced in the 1960s as it was the practice to make poppy sprays, (an alternative to a poppy wreath), which were made up of 5 silk poppies attached to 7 pieces of green fern. Leaves slowly became an optional extra and by 1984 demand for them had grown to 12 million a year, although they were still issued separately to the poppy.

In 1995 poppies with leaves included were made available for the first time.

7. Over 40 million poppies are distributed by 40,000 volunteers during the Poppy Appeal

Thousands of volunteers take to the streets, train stations and supermarkets for two weeks during the Poppy Appeal.

Over 40 million poppies will be distributed by 40,000 volunteers with aim of raising £50 million to help support serving and ex-serving members of the armed forces community and their families.

8. Donations for poppies helps families like these…

Money raised during the Poppy Appeal helps us support the Armed Forces community in lots of different ways, such as much needed breaks away from everyday life for serving and ex-serving personnel and their families. 

9. And funds services like this...

The Poppy Appeal also helps fund services like the Battle Back Centre - the first port of call for wounded, injured and sick service men and women as they start their Individual Recovery Program.

This year they are taking a team of 12 serving military (WIS) personnel and veterans on a life-changing expedition in the Himalayas.

10. A wonderful variety of poppies can be worn

Poppies come in all shapes and sizes. From knitted to jewelled poppies, there are so many types to choose from that can be worn as a symbol of Remembrance and hope.

11. Poppies are recyclable

Paper poppies are environmentally friendly and all of the parts are either biodegradable or able to be recycled.

The petals and leaf are paper and the stem and centre are made using recyclable plastic. After Remembrance Sunday you can recycle your poppy at any Sainsbury’s supermarket.

Support the Poppy Appeal

The Poppy Appeal is the Royal British Legion’s biggest fundraising campaign held every year in November, the period of Remembrance. This year, join us as we mark the end of the WW1 centenary by saying Thank You to all who served, sacrificed and changed our world.

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