Paper Poppy Production Begins

James Cropper's Burneside Mill saw the symbolic tipping of the poppies' red dye

Every year 250 kilometres of red paper is produced at James Cropper in Cumbria, destined for the Poppy Factory in Kent where it is turned into millions of Remembrance Poppies. This year holds special significance as the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War and to mark the occasion Mr David Horsman, a former weapons engineer and ships diver in The Royal Navy, symbolically kick-started the paper production process.

Invited by the paper making firm to tip the all-important red dye into a new batch of poppy paper, Mr Horsman, from Kendal, saw the concentrated red colourant gradually turn the swirling container of paper pulp deep crimson, helping to celebrate and raise-awareness of The Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal. After serving on vessels including HMS Liverpool between 1979 and 1987, Mr Horsman called on the help of the Royal British Legion for financial assistance. Now a successful businessman, he gives thanks for the support offered to him by giving his time as a Poppy Appeal Organiser.

Although poppies are manufactured nearly every day of the year at facilities in Aylesford, Kent and Richmond, Greater London to meet overwhelming public demand, James Cropper contacted charity representatives earlier in the year to arrange the symbolic start of production celebration and invite their special guest. There was an opportunity for reflection once the dye had worked its magic and the mill swung into action to turn the pulp into paper.

Phil Wild, Chief Executive of James Cropper, said: “Although we are involved each year in the production of papers for Remembrance Poppies, we don’t take it for granted what the poppy means to so many families and the country as a whole. Everyone at both James Cropper Paper and Technical Fibre Products are proud to be able to arrange this special gesture of remembrance and support for the Poppy Appeal and are grateful to Mr Horsfield for his service, fundraising contributions and time to mark the occasion with us.”

Since 1978, James Cropper has produced the red paper for Remembrance Poppies. A British company overseen by the sixth generation of the Cropper family as Chairman, they are renowned for bespoke papers and laboratory technicians have taken colour samples from real poppy petals to ensure the paper is the closest possible colour match to the real thing.

Marcus Hawthorn, Area Manager for Cumbria at The Royal British Legion, said: “It’s a pleasure to witness the start of the poppy journey at James Cropper. The red paper will be transformed into millions of poppies, which enables the Legion to continue providing practical help and support to the whole Armed Forces community. In this poignant year which marks the centenary of the First World War we encourage the nation to reflect on the sacrifices made by all Service men and women who fought for the freedom we enjoy today.”

From Cumbria, the paper makes the 300 mile trip to the South East, where Poppy Factories produce more than 40 million Remembrance Poppies, 500,000 poppies of other types, 5 million Remembrance petals, 100,000 wreaths and sprays, 750,000 Remembrance Crosses and other Remembrance items.

Dave Watson, Chief Operations Officer of James Cropper, joined the guest of honour at the event and commented: “We are very proud of our long standing involvement in the production of the paper poppy, and it must be said that there is more to this iconic emblem than at first meets the eye – the paper colour does not run in the rain or rub off onto clothing, it retains its vibrant colour and holds its shape. The diverse technical chemistry required to achieve this ensures the paper poppy is worn with confidence the world over as a symbol of respect and remembrance.”

For more information about the Poppy Appeal visit www.britishlegion.org.uk