red poppies in the field

Poppy is more than a PR campaign for a charity

By James Knight.

When I decide to write articles or blogs I like to write about very worthwhile causes, and The Poppy Factory hits the right note. I have great respect for this 100-year-old charity and the veterans it supports. Poppies are so much more than just a PR campaign for this unique charity.

Based near to my home in Richmond-upon-Thames, in the UK, The Poppy Factory began life in 1922. The vision of its founder, Major George Howson, was to create employment opportunities for soldiers who had been wounded or injured in the First World War. He quickly built a team of veterans to make Remembrance poppies for the Royal British Legion and by 1931 the factory team was making nearly 30 million poppies a year.

In 1928, The Poppy Factory established another important tradition when a group of workers created the first Field of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey. This important event has become a vital part of the Remembrance period and is still organised by the charity today.

In recent decades, The Poppy Factory has looked beyond Richmond to support veterans into all kinds of employment in their own communities. In doing so it has stayed true to its founder George Howson’s vision of employment support for veterans with health conditions, helping hundreds of veterans in England and Wales each year to move towards a more positive future.

Production work continues today at the factory in Richmond. Special wreaths for the Royal Family have are all made there by hand, along with the Remembrance wreaths that are ordered each year through the Royal British Legion.

The Queen has visited four times over the years, most recently in 2012 for the charity’s 90th anniversary. A new visitor centre was opened at the end of 2021 by The Poppy Factory’s Patron, Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall.

Separate to the work of The Poppy Factory, the use of poppies to remember those who have given their lives in conflict is well established.

In 2014, The Tower of London marked the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War with thousands of ceramic poppies.

Poppies at the tower of London
London, August 9th 2014, Volunteers at the Tower of London moat installing thousands of ceramic poppies . Image by Chris Mansfield on iStock


In 2018 The Tower once again became a site of commemoration marking 100 years since the end of World War One with a ceremony led by The Yeoman Wardens. I visited the wonderful poppy display in the mote created by Paul Cummings and Tom Piper, with 888, 246 ceramic poppies, attracted many visitors worldwide.

When you see veterans selling poppies for The Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal, please talk to them as they deserve our support. These poppies raise a great deal of money and the funds are shared between six service charities.

This has been a personal blog to write for me. I was supposed to visit The Poppy Factory recently, but through ill health had to postpone my visit. I look forward to visiting when I can.

Professor James Knight is an international businessman, public relations practitioner and academic. He was Fellow of Bournemouth University Public Relations School, guest speaker at Judge Cambridge, Surrey, Bath and Reading, International Mentor for Oxford Brookes on Hospitality. He is a Fellow of CIPR and the Society of Public Relations of America, as well as a fellow of the Institute of Directors.


Image by Mike_Pellinni on iStock


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