The People's Poppy / British Legion
Photographs of 3,500 recipients of help from the Royal British Legion were put together to create a vast poppy to publicise an initiative by the charity. The 20 sq ft People’s Poppy was on display in June 2006 at London’s Victoria station. Helen Marshall collected the pictures from the legion’s historical archives and legion beneficiaries. She also ran a series of photography workshops in local primary schools using the colour red which forms a large part of the image. The People’s Poppy toured to Sheffield, Liverpool, Cornwall, Manchester and Cardiff stations.
The display marked the launch of Poppy Support, an initiative to promote its services in advice, funds, homes, volunteers, holidays and travel. The charity spent more than £75 million last year in support of the serving and ex-service community.
Ian Townsend, the legion’s director general, said he hoped the display would encourage more people to ask for support.“To most, the poppy is a symbol of reflection and remembrance. We have created the Poppy Support brand to help us reach the many thousands who need advice and hope in times of despair and, above all, to offer support when they need it. An incredible 10.5 million, or one in six people in the UK, are entitled to Poppy Support, yet many are unaware of the services available or feel too proud to ask. We’re encouraging everyone to look behind the poppy image to think of someone who could benefit from Poppy Support.”
Helen Marshall said “I’ve really enjoyed working on the People’s Poppy –putting together photographs from people of all backgrounds, from school children to veterans. The age range displayed in the photographs is enormous and is a vivid reminder of how wide the legion’s net can be cast. Working on the project has been a very moving experience.”
The People’s Poppy Stories
Daniel is 25 years old, and served in the Army for 7 years as a loader operator of the battle tank ‘Challenger 2’. In March 2003, his tank was fired on. Daniel was lucky to survive, but two of his comrades were killed outright, and he himself was left with severe shrapnel wounds to his face and jaw, as well as significant hearing loss. Since the incident, Daniel has had to undergo over 20 operations, including skin grafts and plastic surgery, to try and repair the disfigurement to his face and body. Daniel attended the launch of ‘The People’s Poppy’ at Victoria Station and featured in its centre.
To most, the poppy is a symbol of reflection and remembrance. We’re encouraging everyone to look behind the poppy image to think of someone who could benefit from Poppy Support.Ian Townsend