10th November 2017 Fraser Bedwell

Actors Sam Ducane and Jake Morgan from the Somme-inspired West End production The Wipers Times joined current serving soldiers to get down and dirty in a recreated First World War trench today (Friday, 10th November), helping launch Poppyscotland’s most ambitious fundraising challenge ever outside of the annual Scottish Poppy Appeal. They were joined by soldiers from 2nd Battalion Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, who were the first to commit to this challenge.

Gordon Michie, Head of Fundraising for Poppyscotland, said: “While the Scottish Poppy Appeal remains the lifeblood of the charity, we have today launched The 1918 Poppy Pledge; a year-long fundraising quest that we hope will inspire groups, schools, businesses, clubs and organisations around the country to take on the challenge of raising £1,918 – or more – in the next year.

“As we enter this important centenary year, The Poppy Pledge will be a lasting tribute to those who fell in the First World War. Importantly, it will also allow us to make a step change in the scale of support Poppyscotland is able to provide those in the Armed Forces community who rely on our support today.”

The actors were joined by serving soldiers from 2nd Battalion The Royal and Mechanical Engineers (REME), based at Leuchars Station, who were the first to sign The 1918 Poppy Pledge. Earlier this year, the soldiers went the extra mile for the Scottish Poppy Appeal when they cycled the distance from John o’Groats to Land’s End on exercise bikes.

Corporal Craig Wood, from the REME, said: “The coming year will mark an important milestone in our nation’s history as we reflect on the 100-year anniversary of the end of the First World War, and the sacrifices made by so many. The work of Poppyscotland is as vital today as it was back then and that’s why we were the first to sign The 1918 Poppy Pledge. We hope that other military units, and the public as a whole, will join us in supporting this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

The trenches, at Digging In which is located in Glasgow’s Pollok Park, are a re-creation of a section of Allied and opposing German trenches. They give visitors an understanding of how soldiers learned to survive not just the violence of war, but also the mundane challenges of daily life, thrown up by a world cut into the world.

The Wipers Times tells the true and extraordinary story of the satirical newspaper created in the mud and mayhem of the Somme, interspersed with comic sketches and spoofs from the vivid imagination of those on the front line. The stage adaptation was developed following an award-winning BBC film by Ian Hislop and Nick Newman.

Private Eye Editor and star of legendary BBC panel show Have I Got News For You Ian Hislop, whose paternal grandfather, Murdoch David Hislop, served with the 9th Highland Light Infantry at the Third Battle of Ypres, said: “Following amazing audience and critical reaction in the West End, The Wipers Times is on manoeuvres again around Britain. We look forward to sharing the remarkable trench humour of The Wipers Times with new theatre-goers around the country, including at the Theatre Royal in Glasgow this weekend.”

James Haworth, Theatre Director at Theatre Royal, said: “It’s an honour to have The Wipers Times with us at Theatre Royal Glasgow for its only Scottish run this week. It really is a fitting way to mark Armistice Day commemorations and we’re proud to be supporting Poppyscotland with a charity collection at each performance.

“The Wipers Times cast were thrilled to take part in today’s event. The 1918 Poppy Pledge is a fantastic way to honour those who fought in both World Wars and help provide continued support for the Armed Forces community.”

For more information on The 1918 Poppy Pledge click here.