HRH The Duke of Edinburgh opens the Field of Remembrance
Friday, 6th November 2009
HRH The Duke of Edinburgh opened the Royal British Legion Field of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey on Thursday 5th November 2009.
The sea of scarlet poppies on Remembrance Crosses is laid out by the Poppy Factory in over 250 plots for regimental and other associations.
In this 81st year of the Field, a record 60,000 crosses have been planted in the grounds surrounding the Abbey, each one with a dedication written to a loved one or friend, killed in battle. There is a special plot of crosses to mark the losses of those men and women who died in Iraq and Afghanistan, including five crosses planted to mark the death of five British troops, who were killed in Afghanistan on Monday 3rd November 2009.
Prayers were said by the Dean, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall, and Canon Robert Wright, Rector of St Margaret’s. Mrs Sara Jones, president of the Royal British Legion Poppy Factory and widow of the Falklands VC hero Colonel H Jones, invited The Duke of Edinburgh to lay a Cross of Remembrance. The Last Post was sounded from the parapet of St Margaret’s by trumpeters of the Household Cavalry. Afterwards the Duke toured the plots and signed the visitors’ book in St Margaret’s Church.
The Remembrance crosses are provided so that ex-servicemen and women, as well as members of the public, can plant a cross in memory of their fallen comrades and loved ones with the Field remaining standing as a touching symbol throughout the period of Remembrance.
Every year poppies are worn, wreaths are laid and the nation turns its attention towards remembrance. At the Poppy Factory this means the culmination of a year’s effort, producing over 30 million poppies, 800,000 poppies of other types, four million Remembrance Petals and up to 100,000 Wreaths. The workforce responsible for this is made up of predominately disabled people, who are either ex-Service or dependants of ex-Service people. In addition to the regular workers at the factory, there are some home-workers, assembling poppies in their own homes. Most are housebound by either chronic sickness or disability. There are others too in residential homes or disabled groups who also help make the poppies.