by Guest Blogger Nancy Shafee
Gareth Malone is, strictly speaking, responsible for me making poppies under licence to raise funds for The Royal British Legion! I was so impressed with his weekly TV programme with the young service wives’ choirs, that I decided to write to The Royal British Legion and ask if I could make poppies with some sort of legal contract to give them a donation from each one sold.
Every year I was getting asked if I made poppies and always said ‘No, you are supposed to buy one for the charity’.
So it was quite a surprise to discover that there are many small businesses and groups knitting, crocheting, felting or sewing poppies for the benefit of this wonderful charity.
There is no fixed percentage when you discuss a contract, so I offered 20% and a licence was drawn up.
My poppies are not ‘brooches’ – men can wear them too. This is Surrey singer/songwriter Andy Butler launching my 2014 poppy appeal
Then I got going to produce as many poppies as I could. I mentioned it on my website and Facebook pages and got editorial coverage in the local paper. Soon I was getting orders from people as far away as America, as well as from small shops in Surrey, where I live. I also ran poppy-making workshops and put together poppy packs for anyone wanting to have a go on their own.
By the end of 2014 I was able to send a cheque for more than £400.00, so yes, you’ve guessed it, I renewed my contract with the RBL and am once again disappearing under red, black and green wool!
Disappearing under red, green and black wool
Now this must all sound like blatant self-promotion, and yes, I want you to clamour to buy one of my poppies, but I also want to remind everyone of the reason we all buy a poppy.
Closer contact with the charity has taught me so much more about their work. The British Legion was founded in 1921 as a merger of four organisations: the Comrades of the Great War, the National Association of Discharged Sailors and Soldiers, the National Federation of Discharged and Demobilized Sailors and Soldiers and the Officers’ Association. It was granted a Royal Charter on 29 May 1971 to mark its fiftieth anniversary which gives the Legion the privilege of the prefix ‘Royal’.
The money raised by the RBL goes, among other things to more than 300,000 welfare and friendship visits every year, and to campaigns to raise awareness of Gulf Illness and compensation for its victims, upgrading War Pensions, the extension of endowment mortgage compensation for personnel serving overseas, and better support for Service personnel resettling into civilian life.
The work of the charity goes on all year, every year. Whether ‘old soldiers’ or those from more recent conflicts, we have many service personnel and indeed their families in need of financial and/or emotional or physical support. OK, yes, you can see I am passionate about this!
While we are reminded about the work of the RBL in October/November each year, it is ALL YEAR ROUND that the charity needs – and indeed welcomes – financial support. You can wear your poppy throughout the year to remind yourself and everyone else!
Oh yes, and to those who say ‘but if I buy a felt/crocheted/knitted poppy, the charity won’t be getting my money the following year’ just tell them ‘you can still put money in a collection box, and you can still have a ‘commercial’ poppy’.
Wear both with pride.
Time to procrastinate……this month’s words: conflict, poppies, sunset
Nancy Shafee is a member of the International Feltmakers Association, Surrey Guild of Craftsmen and Professional Crafters Guild. She runs regular workshops both for wetfelting and for coiled fabric basket making and examples of her work can be seen at