HRH the Duke of Sussex will today open the 90th Field of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey, three days before the centenary of the end of the First World War, to remember those in the Armed Forces who have lost their lives.
Organised and run by The Poppy Factory on the same site since 1928, the Field has 370 plots laid out with more than 60,000 Remembrance symbols, made by wounded, injured and sick veterans and dependents of veterans working year-round at the factory in Richmond-upon-Thames.
The symbols are planted according to names of military organisations and associations on the North Green of the Abbey, most bearing a poppy and often with a hand-written message from family, friends or comrades.
The Poppy Factory employs around 30 veterans and dependents of veterans with physical and mental health conditions, making the Remembrance symbols for the Field as well as wreaths and poppies for The Royal British Legion and the Royal Family.
More than 1,000 wounded, injured and sick veterans around the UK have now been supported back into meaningful employment in their communities by The Poppy Factory since 2010. The charity works with businesses around the country to transform the way employers think about recruiting people with physical or mental health conditions.
Deirdre Mills, The Poppy Factory’s Chief Executive, said: “It is a great honour to have His Royal Highness return to open the Field of Remembrance in its 90th year, just days before the centenary of the end of the First World War. This year feels especially significant to all of us at The Poppy Factory, including our production team in Richmond-upon-Thames who have once again been working hard all year round.
“We will always value the opportunity that this ceremony gives to remember those who have lost their lives in conflict, and to think of the many thousands who are still here and need our support.
“Those with physical and mental health conditions can feel vulnerable and may struggle to find meaningful work after being discharged from the Armed Forces. By working with wounded, injured and sick veterans to increase their confidence, independence and job-readiness, The Poppy Factory helps them gain access to a more positive, secure and successful future.”
The Field of Remembrance was started in 1928 by the founder of The Poppy Factory, Major George Howson MC, together with a group of ex-Servicemen with disabilities at St Margaret’s Church. They gathered around a wooden cross taken from a battlefield grave of an unknown British soldier and invited passers-by to plant a poppy around a wooden cross.
At the opening of the Field, The Poppy Factory’s President, Mrs Sara Jones CBE DL, will invite the Duke of Sussex to lay a Cross of Remembrance followed by Last Post, the Exhortation to Remembrance, a two-minute silence and Reveille before the Duke of Sussex tours the plots meeting veterans.
The Field of Remembrance will stay open until Sunday 18th November and members of the public are invited to lay their own crosses. Proceeds from the Field are given to The Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal.