September Meeting and Press Report

September has already been a busy month for us! We helped serve refreshments at the weekend for the Needlework Fiesta.  Members baked beautiful cakes and scones.

On the evening of 13th September, we had our first in person meeting since March 2020! It was lovely to see a big turn-out and to catch up with each other. Our president Elaine welcomed 6 visitors.

We had a talk by Jeremy Prescott, who served for 27 years as a British Army Officer in the Infantry reaching the rank of Lieutenant Colonel,

Jeremy talked to us about the history of the Flanders Poppy, entitled The Miracle Flower – from Flanders to the Tower. This was a poignant story of the Poppy and how it has become the symbol of remembrance for those killed in conflict. The black stamen represents death and the red represents blood.

We heard about how, John McCrae, a Canadian soldier was so moved by seeing poppy a growing amongst the churned up battle field after the death of a close friend in World War One, that he penned the iconic poem “In Flanders Fields”. The magazine Punch published this poem in 1915 and it gave soldiers hope. Soldiers would pluck poppies from the battlefield and press them in their notebooks and prayer books to give them hope. It reminded them that the life of a poppy was short, brave and brilliant.

In Flanders Fields by John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
    That mark our place; and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
        In Flanders fields

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
        In Flanders fields.

We learnt how the American Moina Michael bought 24 silk poppies and put on the desk at a conference and asked donations. This was a start of the poppy appeal in America.

We heard how french-born Anna Guerin’s involvement in the poppy appeal. How she was moved by the plight of 20,000 french war widow’s and children who were facing destitution, she funded and encouraged them to make poppies which she sold to The British Legion and then gave the money to help these widows and children.

We learnt how Earl Haig gave his name to the poppy appeal, then called The Earl Haig Fund.

We learnt about Major George Howson, a British Army officer in the First World War and winner of the Military Cross in 1917. After he witnessed George Howson’s vision for the charity was to provide employment for veterans injured during the First World War. This led to the establishment of the Poppy Factory in 1922 firstly in the Old Kent Road, London and latterly in Richmond where people can visit and see poppies being made.

We heard about the iconic poppy display “Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red“ in 2014 at the Tower of London, where a poppy was made for every soldier who lost their life.which then went on a tour of Britain, ending at the Imperial War Museum.

We learnt that the white poppy represents remembrance of all war victims, peace and all civilians not just armed forces.  It is also used to find ways to find non violent solution

Members found this talk very moving and enjoyed the slides and a poem reading.  It was fascinating, informative and poignant.

From this great talk, Jeremy Prescott raises money for Combat Stress, the Veterans Mental Health charity who’s Helpline is available to all veterans and their families for confidential mental health advice and support 0800 138 1619

We hope to continue with meetings in the Village Hall on the second Monday of the month at 7pm for 7.30pm start.  If you would be interested in coming to a meeting please contact us.

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