Tuesday 20th March – 11th meeting of 2018
Today we met at Waterloo main line station to take an overground train to Richmond. We had another long-awaited and longtime booking to visit the The Poppy Factory and we also had five husbands joining us nine ladies. Yes, I know, a repeat of our recent visit to The Postal Museum.
At Richmond station we found a Costa coffee and enjoyed a drink. It was busy but we did manage to find seats in different parts of the cafe. From here we walked back to the station and the bus stop to wait for a number 65 bus which stopped opposite The Poppy Factory, 20 Petersham Road, Richmond, Surrey, TW10 6UR.
The Poppy Factory is run by The British Legion and is where all the poppies and wreathes especially the royal wreaths, for Remembrance Day are made. When we arrived we were escorted into a reception area. We were booked in for lunch before the tour and were told we just needed to wait a few moments as the workers were just finishing lunch in the canteen. After a short time Brian our guide introduced himself and ask us to escort him into the canteen were we enjoyed a very tasty lunch of scampi and chips, apple crumble and tea or coffee. This was of a cost of £9.50 and worth every penny.
From here Brian lead us back into the reception area and explained the plan for the tour. It started with a really informative film explaining the work of The Poppy Factory which is a charity dedicated to helping veterans back to work. Their work covers physical and mental problems that veterans have to deal with. It is the country’s leading employment charity for veterans with health conditions or impairments.
Brian, who was very interesting and explained the work very well, took us to the Factory. The factory employs around 30 disabled veterans to produce the poppies and wreaths for the Royal Family and The Royal Legions’s annual Poppy Appeal – something that has been going on since its founding in 1922. The factory was not that big. We saw the machines where the shapes are cut out and even had the chance to make our own poppies, with the help of Brian and another soldier all were successful in making a poppy. We could take the poppies home as a lovely momentum of the day.
We were taken along a corridor which showed all the wreaths of the Royal Family. Brian gave a good explanation of the way in which each wreath for the individual Royals are designed and told us once the design is approved by all it cannot be changed. So every year at the Cenotaph service the wreathes that are laid are of the same design. Also along this corridor were wreaths used by RAF, Army and Navy for services at home and around the world.
In the warehouse were many many boxes of completed poppies awaiting transport to Aylesbury were they are stored year on year.
Also on this site there is a block of accommodation which were built alongside the factory for use by the military.
At the end of the tour we were back in the reception area and saw another short film. The tour is free but a donation is suggested and we were more than pleased to make a donation for such a worthwhile charity.
Brian then gave his thanks and goodbyes, leaving us to look around the small shop. The items on sale were nice. Most of us purchased something and I myself bought a lovely poppy mug and a small poppy cup fridge magnet. This was a very interesting tour and I for one learnt a lot about The Poppy Factory and the marvellous job that they do for our veterans.
We then left the factory and got a number 65 bus back to Richmond and trains home after a really interesting and enjoyable day and one that I would recommend anyone to take part in.