SCOTTISH POPPIES TAKE FLIGHT ACROSS THE GLOBE

18th December 2018 Michael Fahy

Every year, the team of veterans at Lady Haig’s Poppy Factory hand-make five million poppies to be handed out during the annual Scottish Poppy Appeal. It is safe to assume that the vast majority of these stay in the country, but wouldn’t it be interesting to know how far the Scottish poppy can travel?

And now we can! Thanks to Gordon Guthrie, the man who leads a team of 31 from the Rotary Club of Corstorphine for the collection at Edinburgh Airport, which raised more than £10,000 this year, it has been possible to create a ‘Poppy Map’ of all the locations where poppies travelled during this year’s centenary Poppy Appeal.

Gordon, who lives in Corstorphine and served for 20 years as a Chief Petty Officer at HMS Claverhouse in the Forth Division, Royal Naval Reserve, explains: “When we were handing out poppies at the airport to passengers, we asked them to write down their final destination that day. Even though Edinburgh Airport has flights to a number of far-flung and exotic locations, even we were surprised at how far some of those who were kind enough to donate were going. From A to Z – Australia to Zimbabwe – almost every part of the world was covered!”

Gordon, 67, is not exaggerating: among the 50 destinations written down by passengers on the specially created ‘How far is your Poppy going today?’ board there was Oman, Ethiopia, New Zealand, Taiwan, Czech Republic, Brunei, USA, Turkey, Sudan, Indonesia, Australia, Argentina, Poland, Croatia, Vietnam, Costa Rica, Zimbabwe, Hong Kong, Qatar, South Africa, Bulgaria, Denmark, Germany, Cyprus, Spain, Portugal, Iceland, Italy, Singapore, India, Brazil, Barbados, Mexico, Austria, the Maldives, Russia, Netherlands, Serbia, Hungary, Belgium, France, Thailand, Greece, Canada, Bolivia, Switzerland, Norway, Luxembourg, Mauritius and the Faroe Islands.

Gordon added: “The thing I found interesting was the fact that you have no idea while standing in the airport the stories all of the people set to board a plane have. For example, an Indian young lady came across to the stall and was looking at the merchandise. We started to talk and she revealed that her grandfather had been killed during the Second World War. I gave her a Sikh Cross to plant in memory of her grandfather and she stated she was going back home to India as her father had passed away the day before.”

Gordon Michie, the Head of Fundraising at Poppyscotland, said: “It is wonderful to get an insight into the journey of the iconic poppy. While our Scottish poppy is truly unique, it is recognised the world over, so it is only fitting that they have found their way to almost every part of the globe, especially when one considers the hundreds of thousands of Scots who have served abroad over the years.”

Mr Michie added: “We would like to thank the thousands of travellers who gave so generously for this year’s Poppy Appeal – a fantastic total of £10,177.14. Our team is still adding up all that was raised across the country, but it’s important for the public to know that their kind donations will go directly towards helping the Armed Forces community in Scotland.”

Gordon Dewar, Chief Executive of Edinburgh Airport, said: “Every year we are proud to remember our history as an RAF base and take part in the Remembrance events because it’s important to remember where we’ve come from and where we are today. The collection of countries highlights the great affinity people in Scotland and in the UK have for our Armed Forces and their desire to remember those past and present no matter where they are in the world.”