By Cara Sulieman
A MILITARY like operation got underway to distribute almost FIVE MILLION handmade poppies across the country last night in an effort to help raise funds for war veterans.
And it is hoped generous Scots will dig deep to help Poppy Scotland smash last year’s fundraising total of £2 million.
The Scottish poppies – different from the English version because they have four petals and no leaf – were packed upon waiting vans to help people remember the sacrifice made by British service personnel.
“It is important to remember”
Ian McGregor, CEO of the charity, said they hoped this year people would remember that Poppy day isn’t just about the wars in the past, but that money raised goes to help support the armed forces fighting current conflicts.
He said: “A lot of people still think that Remembrance Day is about the trenches and the two World Wars.
“It is important to remember those times but we want people to realise that we support a lot of young people who have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“There has only been one year since 1945 when no British servicemen died in conflict.
“The work that we do and the support we provide is used by a lot of young men and women who come back from current wars.”
It takes 38 workers a whole year to make all the poppies for November 11, and each one of them are veterans themselves.
Charlie Pelling, the manager at the factory, served in the Royal Tank Regiment from 1978 to 2001.
He explained the work that goes into making all the poppies that are needed.
He said: “We have made 4.8 million poppies this year as well as 9,500 wreaths.
“It takes 12 months to get everything ready to go for this time of year.
They get shipped out now and in the next few weeks will start making their way to the local collection points and down to the shops, schools and individuals who sell them.
“The men working in the factory are all ex-servicemen and come to us mostly through the Department of Work and Pensions Access to Employment Scheme.
“Many of them are disabled and are disabled as a result of the service they gave to their country.
“Between us we have seen service from Korea right through to the first Gulf war.
“We are extremely dedicated to the cause, which, sadly, is as relevant today as it ever has been.”
“Help they need”
Thomas Flynn and Lee Currie from Hibs joined forces with Jonathan Stewart from Hearts to help the veterans load up the vans and get the poppies on their way.
Thomas said: “Servicemen and women in Afghanistan put their lives on the line every day and when they return home some of them need support.
“Money raised from the appeal will provide them with the help they need.”
For more information visit www.poppyscotland.org.uk