Community has been core to The Poppy Factory since our charity began work in 1922. Throughout our special centenary year, we’re featuring some of the people who have contributed to our community in different ways, in Richmond-upon-Thames and across the UK.
First World War veteran and Founder of The Poppy Factory.
Major Howson had a vision to employ veterans who had been injured in the First World War. He launched The Poppy Factory with a handful of workers and together they built an entire community. With great effort and entrepreneurial flair, Howson and his team laid strong foundations for the century ahead.
Second World War RAF veteran and production team member.
Noel Davies was recruited by the RAF in Nigeria. He built Spitfires and Lancaster bombers and later moved to London to find work as a civil engineer and then at The Poppy Factory. After his retirement, Noel continued making poppies from home on the factory estate. He died in 2021, aged 100.
Former Nursing Officer and Iraq veteran, now Disability Assessor.
Sarah Groves went through a challenging time after leaving Service. With help she was able to rebuild her confidence, transform her life and move forward into civilian employment. Sarah now works as a Disability Assessor, helping others who are going through experiences similar to her own.
Our first Sales Manager and Remembrance Club Secretary.
Arthur, who was severely injured in the First World War, joined the Disabled Society before it became The Poppy Factory. He had a flair for business and promotion, and like many of the veterans in the factory community, he refused to let his injuries get in the way of progress and personal development.
Son of the first factory foreman, "Bill" Williams, and his wife Mabel.
Dennis Williams was among the first generation of children to be born at The Poppy Factory. Here Dennis reflects on his experience of growing up as the son of the foreman and within the factory community, while making a return visit to The Poppy Factory for the first time in more than 60 years.
Former soldier, helping young people to make positive choices.
Paul Wright went through a difficult time outside the Forces. We helped Paul gain work supporting young people against a backdrop of Premier League football - first through Everton in the Community and more recently through LFC Foundation, the charity wing of Liverpool Football Club.
Eight women and children were killed in an air raid on one tragic night in November.
Families have always been vital to the life of The Poppy Factory, since the first generation of production workers moved to Richmond with their wives and children. Tragedy struck on 29 November, 1940 when a German bomb fell on an air raid shelter, killing five women and three children.