GWR joins forces with The Veterans Charity to create special ‘Poppies to Paddington’ operation for Remembrance Day
Wreaths from across Great Western Railway network to be carried to the capital
Swathes of poppy wreaths were be placed on Great Western Railway trains and carried to London Paddington station on Remembrance Day.
Our special 'Poppies to Paddington' operation involved ten train services and more than 60 stations covering the length and breadth of the Great Western network.
With many Remembrance events in the capital and around the region suspended because of the pandemic, GWR and The Veterans Charity (VC) have been coordinating with organisations, Veterans and volunteers to place wreaths on board early-morning services heading to the capital on November 11.
Great Westerner: D-Day veteran Harry Billinge MBE provided a VC wreath which will he laid at St Austell in a socially-distanced ceremony at the weekend.
Local authorities and military bases also took part in the operation and more than 150 wreaths made it to London.
On arrival at Paddington the wreaths were placed at the station’s iconic war memorial, on Platform 1, in time for the Remembrance Day service at 1100 which was broadcast on GWR's Facebook Page.
Poppies to Paddington was created by The Veterans Charity and with fabulous support from GWR, is our way of helping our communities to ensure our fallen heroes are remembered despite the restrictions in place around Covid-19.
GWR’s Head of Communications Dan Panes said:
“We all know how much change the pandemic has brought to everyone’s lives but we are determined Remembrance Day should be marked in the best way possible.
“Poppies to Paddington allows all those organisations who would usually be present for the Remembrance services at London Paddington and around the region to pay tribute to the fallen by laying a wreath. We are proud to be able to help in this way.”
Iain Henderson, Trustee of The Veterans Charity, said:
“Thanks to GWR and our friends in HM Armed Forces, the Emergency Services and numerous other groups and charities who support veterans, Poppies to Paddington has meant that people from across the region could still pay respects and remember those who fought and remember those who died in conflicts from World War One to Afghanistan.”
The first of the Poppies to Paddington services started from Penzance at 0458, calling at 10 stations before arriving into London Paddington at 0959.
Other services involved included the 0627 from Barnstaple, 0643 from Hereford, the 0713 from Paignton, 0720 from Swansea, 0721 from Portsmouth, 0722 from Taunton, 0813 from Worcester Shrub Hill, 0858 from Cheltenham Spa, 0900 from Bristol Temple Meads, and 0959 from Oxford.
The Veterans Charity have not sought to gain any funds from Poppies To Paddington. There were 231 wreaths in total at Paddington, which is far beyond what we dreamed of. All wreaths were purchased from the Royal British Legion or hand made and we estimate that over £4000 has been donated in return. We collaborate closely with the RBL and have to date received more than 100 referrals for urgent cases from them this year alone.
We are very proud to be the creators of Poppies to Paddington and it is our intention to expand it in 2021 - the Poppy Express will be arriving soon....