On 21 August, some our staff took part in planting poppies at the Tower of London for its unique WWI commemorative installation. Our Public Relations Officer Samantha Budde was one of the volunteers and in this guest blog she tells us more about the installation that honours the British servicemen who died in the Great War.
We set off for the Tower from the RAF Benevolent Fund headquarters and while we were all excited to plant poppies, no one really knew what would be asked of us or what to expect.
When you first approach the Tower and see the poppies cascading from the walls and into the moat, you can't appreciate at first just how many poppies are already in place.
But when you get to ground level in the moat, it really is overwhelming to see all the individual poppies.
It turned out that it wasn't just as simple as planting a pre-assembled poppy in the ground. We all took it in turns to assemble the stakes and the system of washers and rings that form the centre of each poppy.
It was only after these were assembled that we could attach and plant the ceramic poppies.
Each poppy is handmade and absolutely unique. They're all different in shape and even vary in colour and shine. The process of assembling and planting the poppies really gave you time to reflect on the sacrifices of the British and colonial soldiers, sailors, and airmen who died in the conflict.
At first glance they too may have appeared the same – masses of men in uniforms – but like the poppies every one of these men were completely unique.
Between now and Remembrance Day, volunteers will work every day to plant 888,246 poppies and for me and my RAF Benevolent Fund colleagues it was an honour to do our bit in paying tribute to those who died in the First World War.
By Samantha Budde