First box of poppies leave Edinburgh ahead of 2017 appeal

Scotland rugby coach Gregor Townsend visits Lady Haig Poppy factory. Picture: Alistair Linford
Scotland rugby coach Gregor Townsend visits Lady Haig Poppy factory. Picture: Alistair Linford
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A LORRY load of poppies made by hand in the Capital has been waved off on a journey around the world ahead of the launch of Poppy Scotland’s 2017 appeal.

The charity will distribute more than four million poppies to towns and cities across the country as well as several locations around the world.

Some will travel up to 6000 miles away to groups in Asia from the Lady Haig’s Poppy Factory (LHPF) in Warriston.

Yesterday’s national uplift marks the day poppies are sent out to regional centres ahead of the official launch of the poppy appeal at the end of October.

Scotland Rugby head coach Gregor Townsend was at Warriston to help launch the event.

The poppies, which are all made in the factory by disabled ex-servicemen and women, are taken by truck to local distribution centres before being sent to volunteer groups around Scotland, all the way up to Shetland.

According to factory manager Charlie Pelling, some of the poppies have even further to travel.

“We have a passionate and hard-working volunteer base who will ensure we get our poppies in as many outlets as possible across the country, regardless of whether they are in cities, towns or villages,” he said.

“But we also send these out to support serving personnel around the world, anywhere there are Scottish soldiers in active service will also receive a shipment of the poppies.

“We continue to work with expatriate societies around the world, particularly those in places like Thailand and China who want to help spread our message and raise money for our causes, so these are racking up the miles.”

The poppy factory, which employs more than 40 armed forces veterans with a range of disabilities, was set up by Lady Haig – wife of Field Marshall Earl Haig – in 1926.

In addition to the four million-plus poppies manufactured throughout the year, around 10,000 wreaths are also created by the veterans.

Speaking at the launch of the event, Townsend said: “It is humbling to know that each and every poppy has been hand-produced by a disabled veteran. I am staggered at the size and scale of the operation to get these shipped in time for the appeal starting next month.

“The veterans who work in the factory have gone the extra mile for us and I would encourage everyone to challenge themselves go the extra mile in support of this year’s Scottish poppy appeal.”

Gordon Michie, Head of Fundraising at Poppy Scotland, said: “The national uplift is a major milestone for us. It marks the culmination of a year of hard work by our veterans and means our biggest fundraiser is just around the corner. We’re sure the public will continue to show their support for our causes by both buying and wearing a poppy as every extra penny generated for the Scottish poppy appeal will make a massive difference to someone in the armed forces community who is in need of our help.”