From one poem to a lasting legacy – children prepare a sea of poppies

Making poppies at Greenway Academy
Making poppies at Greenway Academy

On Friday, children at Horsham’s Greenway Academy will be planting a sea of handmade poppies in honour of Remembrance Day. Lucia Wood, of Year 6, wrote the following article about the significance of the poppy.

‘In Flanders fields’, is a famous poem that was written by a Canadian doctor named Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae.

Lucia Wood

Lucia Wood

In the spring of 1915, he experienced the loss of a friend in Ypres whilst fighting in the war and was inspired by the beautiful red poppies which grew on the battle-scarred fields of WW1.

On the 9th November 1918, in New York, a professor named Moina Belle Michael was on duty at the YMCA Overseas War Secretaries Headquarters when she read the poem in the ‘ladies home journal’.

She was transfixed by the last verse. ‘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.’

From then on, Moina made a personal pledge to herself to always wear a poppy of Flanders fields as a remembrance of all those who served and lost their lives in WW1. She then went on to produce her very own poppies made of silk which became extremely popular.

Making poppies at Greenway Academy

Making poppies at Greenway Academy

As a result of her inspirational idea, the Flanders Fields Memorial Poppies were adopted by lots of organizations around the world including the British Legion.

In the 90 years since it began, the proceeds of the poppy has raised a large amount of money to help ex-serviceman and women who are in need of help and support. This is why we today buy poppies to wear on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.

On the 6th August 2014, an artist by the name of Paul Cummins began to produce a spectacular display of red ceramic poppies in the moat of the Tower of London.

The official name for the tower of remembrance was Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, it marked one hundred years since the world war started.

All of the poppies were progressively added by volunteers until the final poppy was planted on the 11th November.

Each of the 888,246 flowers represented a British and Colonial Military who lost their lives in WW1.

The sea of poppies were arranged to look like a pool of blood which appeared to be pouring out the weeping window.

One by one, the poppies were removed by the volunteers shortly after the 11th November. Each of the ceramic poppies were sold to the general public for £25.

I was lucky enough to see the beautiful display of ceramic poppies for myself. I felt privileged and humbled to see such an amazing sight.

We were given an exciting opportunity to recreate our very own sea of poppies outside our school, Greenway Academy.

The teachers of Year 6 set us a timed task where we would have to work independently to design and create our own Memorial Poppy.

There was a variety of different materials and accessories we could use, which included; paper, card, wire, buttons and tissue paper.

Time was of the essence as we only had a deadline of 50 minutes so we had to keep on task and work responsibly.

We all thoroughly enjoyed creating the poppies and we were proud of how well they turned out.

All of the pupils and teachers at Greenway are looking forward to seeing the finished sea of poppies displayed outside the school.

I went to interview a few people at school to get their own views on remembrance and the importance of the poppies.

Mrs Boult, head of upper school, said: “It was an exciting ‘wow’ start to our historical topic. We wanted to give the children an opportunity to show their respect and to understand the significance of the poppy.”

Saskia Mahoney in Year 5 stated: “I think it is important to remember the people who died for us and we should show gratitude because thousands of men fought for us.

“I really enjoyed making a poppy, it was very fun and enjoyable. I can’t wait to see the field of poppies we are going to make at Greenway Academy.”

Hannah Cheeseman, of Year 5, said: “It is important for us to remember the people who fought in the world war because they were fighting for us.

“If you’re wearing a poppy or making one, you are showing the people around you that you care about the soldiers who died and got injured in the war.”

Throughout this topic, I have really enjoyed learning about the history and origin of the poppy as well as listening to other people’s views.

I thoroughly enjoyed learning about how it all began from one lady reading a powerful poem to creating a lasting legacy that is the poppy.