Duchess of Cornwall visits Richmond as she becomes patron of The Poppy Factory


The charity celebrates its 91st anniversary this year.


By Sarah Lingard

In the run-up to this year’s remembrance events, The Duchess of Cornwall has been named patron of Richmond-based charity The Poppy Factory.

The charity, which celebrates its 91st anniversary this year, makes paper poppies, crosses and wreaths by hand for the Royal Family and the Royal British Legion’s annual Remembrance Day appeal.

On Thursday October 24, The Duchess made her inaugural visit to witness the work undertaken on behalf of disabled ex-service men and women and their dependants.

Chief Executive Melanie Waters said: “We are honoured and delighted that The Duchess of Cornwall has chosen to support our work.

“The patronage of The Duchess will help us to continue this work and to highlight the increasing need to support our disabled veterans into meaningful civilian employment.”

Since 2007, the charity has helped to place wounded, injured or sick ex-military personnel into jobs.

The patronage was announced on the day the Royal British Legion (RBL) marked the start of remembrance season with a pop concert for armed forces families.

The event took place at RAF Northolt in West London, with acts including The Saturdays, Union J, Tich, and The Luminites.

But the band on everybody’s lips was arguably girl-group The Poppy Girls, who sang this year’s official Poppy Appeal single ‘The Call (no need to say goodbye)’.

The group, assembled during a national talent search, is comprised of five schoolgirls between the ages of 10 and 17 whose fathers are members of the Armed Forces.

They are due to perform the song, written by Regina Spektor, for the Queen at the Royal Albert Hall on 9th November, with the official release the following day.

The target for this year’s appeal is £37million.

During her visit to The Poppy Factory, The Duchess helped to put the finishing touches to the wreath which will be laid by her husband, the Prince of Wales, on Remembrance Sunday.

In the five years since its launch, The Poppy Factory’s employment scheme has helped 315 injured ex-military veterans back into the civilian workplace.

Caroline Plank was helped by the organisation when she left the Territorial Army, after suffering an injury to her ankle during parachute training in Afghanistan.

The charity funded her first six months’ work as Database Administrator and Donor Research Officer at SkillsForce, London.

“Your self-esteem gets knocked quite heavily when you’re suddenly not able to do all the things that you used to be able to do, and getting back into the jobs market is tough,” Caroline said.

“I feel good now, very happy with what I am doing and happy with life in general,” she added.

Caroline has since become Skills Training Coordinator for a Government-funded project in South Africa.

The Poppy Factory formed in 1922 and has 35 employees today, making an estimated 30 million poppies and 100,000 wreaths per year.

Free guided tours for up to 42 people are available by arrangement. Tours run at 10:30 and 13:30 Monday – Thursday, lasting approximately an hour and a half and culminating with tea and biscuits.

Photo courtesy of tomylees, with thanks.

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