Paper poppies

11 things you might not know about the poppy

Andy Owen collecting outside his local supermarket

1. Poppies will be available from your local collector during this year’s Poppy Appeal

As Covid restrictions ease our collectors are heading back out in their communities to raise vital funds to support the Armed Forces community.
Poppy Appeal

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Our collectors have been at the heart of the Poppy Appeal in local communities for over 100 years, and as we mark our centenary we are celebrating their contribution.

Meet some of this year's Poppy Appeal collectors.

Poppy Appeal volunteer holding baby

2. The poppy is a symbol of Remembrance and hope for a peaceful future.

Wearing a poppy is a show of support for the service and sacrifice of our Armed Forces, veterans and their families.

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 present day.

It also honours the contribution of civilian services and the uniformed services which contribute to national peace and security and acknowledges innocent civilians who have lost their lives in conflict and acts of terrorism.

Find out more about Remembrance

Dogs at Manchester Poppy Run 2017

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

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

It’s a matter of personal choice whether someone chooses to wear a poppy and how they choose to wear it. From paper poppies to pins, bag charms to pet poppies, and now on face masks, the best way to wear a poppy is simply with pride.

Donate to the Poppy Appeal

Right now we are helping those who are facing homelessness, struggling to feed their children, and are in financial crisis.

A field of natural poppies

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.

Soldiers at London Poppy Day

5. The red poppy directly supports the Armed Forces community

Around the remembrance period a variety of poppies are worn. The red poppy is worn as a show of support for the Armed Forces communities across the UK, Allied Forces and the Commonwealth.

Only donations from the sale of our red poppies go directly towards helping the Armed Forces community.

Poppy Appeal volunteers collecting donations

6. Poppies are sold in every community across the UK


Every year the rumour that poppy selling has been banned in some communities resurfaces. This is simply not true and each year thousands of volunteers from all walks of life take to the streets, train stations and supermarkets around the country for two weeks during the Poppy Appeal.

Whilst we continue to manage the challenges of Covid-19, we want to ensure that everyone who wants to take part in remembrance can do so, either by making a donation for our traditional poppy, or by taking part in other activity.


7. 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 a million poppies from Anna Guérin in France and commissioned a further 8 million to be manufactured in Britain. These were sold on 11 November that year in the first ever Poppy Appeal.

The poppy has been adopted as a symbol of Remembrance ever since.

Royal British Legion paper poppies with leaves

8. 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.

Lawrence with his partner Danielle

9. Donations for poppies helps families like Lawrence's...

Lawrence's story

Money raised during the Poppy Appeal helps us support the Armed Forces community in lots of different ways, including providing financial advice to veterans like Lawrence Philips who was struggling to adapt to civilian life and at the mercy of a payday loan company when Covid-19 meant he couldn’t work.

Lawrence turned to the Legion for support and, despite the restrictions due to Covid-19, our Benefits, Debt and Money Advice team (BDMA) were able to help him and his family.



Last year we also supported 2,500 families through financial difficulties.
Battle Back Centre participants learning to kayak

10. And funds services like this...

Battle Back Centre

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.

In 2018 they took a team of 12 serving military (WIS) personnel and veterans on a life-changing expedition in the Himalayas.

A paper poppy being made

11. Poppies are recyclable

All of the parts of our poppies can be recycled. After Armistice Day you can recycle your poppy at any Sainsbury’s supermarket.

There are also a variety of enamel poppy pins that you can wear instead of a paper poppy and we have a range of alternatives available from our Poppy Shop at You can then choose to make a donation to the appeal every year.

We are committed to reducing the impact our poppies have on the environment and are working to remove all single use plastic in the future.

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