Lieutenant General Sir Alistair Irwin KCB CBE – President of the Royal British Legion Scotland and Poppy Scotland
By the time of the Armistice on 11th November 1918 the poppy had already entered the iconography of the Great War, not least through the moving words of Colonel John Macrae’s poem In Flanders Fields: “In FlandersFields the poppies blow/between the crosses row on row/ that mark our place…”. Now, 96 years on from the end of the War, the red poppy has firmly established itself as the symbol of remembrance. Scotland’s poppies are made in the Poppy Factory in Edinburgh by a dedicated team of ex-servicemen. Each year they make an astonishing 5 million poppies and 10,000 wreaths. The poppies that they produce are worn by so many of us both to demonstrate our own personal acts of remembrance and to record our own contributions, sometimes no more than £1 and sometimes much more, to the annual fund raising effort in November each year.
Poppyscotland was originally established as the Earl Haig Fund for Scotland in 1921. Ever since then the charity has been working hard to do all that is possible to help ex-servicemen and their families in Scotland. The funds that are raised during the annual poppy appeal and indeed by events throughout the rest of the year (£2.6 million last year) are distributed after careful analysis of where the need is greatest. Sometimes major grants are made to other charities providing services for the veterans community, such as Erskine Hospital, Horseback UK or the Royal British Legion Scotland’s War Pensions Appeal Service. Other grants are made to individuals in need, always offering a “hand-up” rather than a “hand-out”.
The annual poppy appeal culminates each year on Remembrance Sunday, always the nearest Sunday to the 11th November. The acts of remembrance on that day, the poppy everywhere visible, speak of our respect of the fallen and of our determination to help the living. We will remember them.