Poppy planting at the Tower of London

Poppy planting at the Tower of London

On an overcast morning, sixteen cadets and four teachers from Warminster School CCF left Salisbury Plain bound for the Tower of London after being given a last-minute opportunity to plant ceramic poppies to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War.

On arrival we were met by the volunteer staff who played a demonstration DVD and issued safety equipment before we ventured into the moat area of the Tower. We were greeted with an amazing sight. As one volunteer said, “It really is overwhelming when you see the sheer number of poppies already planted in the moat and think about how many more will be planted before Remembrance Day.  It’s a beautiful tribute to the lives lost in the War.”

We all took turns in both the construction and planting of the various different size poppies under the watchful eye of a huge crowd surrounding the moat up above us. The cadets were “fantastic” (in the words of one volunteer). Not only did they do a fabulous job but they also interacted extremely well with all the adults that were giving up their time from all over the country. We even met a granddaughter of a former Warminster School Headmaster, Ian Pendlebury Macdonald, who loved the fact that we were representing the School in such a public way.

The cadets were fortunate to be given this opportunity as the age restriction of 18 was lifted to allow us to attend.  A total of 888,246 poppies will be planted in the Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red installation, with each poppy representing one British or colonial soldier, sailor, or airman who died in the conflict. The true scale of this really hit home with the cadets; in the shift we took part in, seven thousand poppies were planted which barely made a dent in the 400,000 still to be planted before November. For anyone who has not had the opportunity to see this display, I would certainly recommend a visit.

I would like to thank Mr Palma, Mr Johns and Ms Davies for helping me to run this last-minute event and for keeping the group together during Saturday rush hour on the London Underground.

Jason Holt
Head of Outdoor Activities