Posted on: 03/11/2010 by


If you have been wondering why millions of people all over Britain have suddenly started wearing a poppy in their lapel then wonder no more. It is to raise money for ex-servicemen and women and their families, and the families of servicemen and women killed in action since WWI. Poppies are sold all over Britain, there is no set price, and you can give as much or as little as you wish to donate. All the money raised goes to the Royal British Legion who allocate the funds as necessary. This year they hope to raise £36 million, £7 million more than last year. This day is known as Remembrance Day, Poppy Day or Armistice Day and has been part of British history since early last century.

This tradition started in November 1918 when Anna Guerin attended a convention of YMCA Secretaries from the Allied Nations and met Moira Michael, who had been inspired to make silk poppies as a badge of remembrance after reading John McCrae’s poem, ‘In Flanders Field’.  Anna then took the idea back to France from where it quickly spread amongst the Allies of WWI including Britain where Marshall Douglas Haig (founder of the Royal British Legion) adopted the idea. It is well documented that poppies bloomed alongside the dying and wounded in the battlefields of Flanders in WWI and are to this day a national symbol of remembrance.

To honour those who fought and lost their lives, we hold a two minute silence at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, this is said to be the time of the German signing of the Armistice in 1918.  Throughout Britain remembrance services are held on the second Sunday of November, each year the Queen other high ranking officials attend a televised service at the Cenotaph in Whitehall, London.  In 2009 the last three British-resident veterans of World War I, Bill Stone, Henry Allingham and Harry Patch died. 

Today, over ninety years later, we support those men and women who are serving Britain in Falklands, the Gulf, Rwanda, Bosnia, Kosovo, Northern Ireland and Afghanistan.

If you wish to attend a remembrance service they are being held all over the country on Sunday, 14th November.  To read more or give a donation click here.

By Heather


Lapel -  (n) the front part of a coat or jacket attached to the collar

Set price – (n) a price that is fixed

Donate  - (v) give something, usually money, to help someone

Donation – (n) something given to a person or organisation to help them

Allocate  - (v) to use something for a particular purpose

YMCA – (org) Young Man’s Christian Organisation, a place that provides places to stay and sports for young people

Inspire – (v) to encourage someone by making them feel confident or keen to do something

Badge of remembrance – (n) a symbol to remember something

Adopt – (v) to choose or select to use

Bloom – (v) to flower

Alongside – (prep) next to

Wounded – (adj) injured or hurt by a weapon such as a gun or knife

Honour – (v) to show public respect or admiration

High ranking officials – (n) people having a high position in government or organisation

Televised service – (n) a service shown on television

Categories: British Culture


London School of English

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