An introductory image for the Centenary Stories series, featuring two portrait photos

Centenary Stories

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.

A portrait of Major George Howson

George Howson

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.

Noel Davies during service in the 1940s

Noel Davies

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.


Sarah Groves

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.

The Poppy Factory centenary logo

Discover more

Book your visit to The Poppy Factory

Explore our 100-year timeline

Read inspiring stories of veterans who are moving into employment