Thursday, 14 May 2015

ANZAC Day 2015

Well finally I have collected some photos to put in the blog. Sorry it has taken me so long but both Julie and I were away the following week.

About 5.30am on ANZAC Day, several of us from St Alban's came down to plant a number of poppies which some of us had made on Friday afternoon.These particular poppies were made mainly from old red shopping bags(eg. Liquorland) and tied on to the top of green dyed bamboo skewers which had black tufty centres glued to the top.  These poppies were easily planted in the sandy soil around the Tuncurry War Memorial.My husband also erected the ANZAC letters which had been made for us by the Men's Shed volunteers.

When we arrived there was a huge crowd gathered already. There ended up being over 3,000 people at this Dawn service. This photo shows some of the poppies around the paths and the seated crowd before the sun rose during the service. We just put up the ANZAC letters and planted poppies in the garden around the Lone Pine and they were very effective. We left placing poppies along the pathways until later.

After the Dawn service, and helped by Ted Bickford's young people, we lay out the poppies in double rows around the pathways.  4,500 poppies on Velcro strips were used to edge the pathways. While this was happening a number of people helped to lay out the sheets of poppies. These poppies were "stapled" on to sheets to make the massed display below the ANZAC letters.(approx. 9,000 poppies)

The 11am service started after the march came down Manning St. There was a slightly smaller crowd but many sat on the hill - around our poppy display and the ANZAC letters. We left the display until 3pm when the shadows were coming across and the atmosphere was getting damper. People had continued to come all afternoon to take photographs of this wonderful display to which so many of the community had contributed.

When the poppy sheets were all dried they were rolled up and packed in boxes. All the poppies are being stored by the RSL for display in coming years.




Julie Davies and Margot Bilston - co-ordinators

Friday, 24 April 2015

Nearly there

We had about 16 ladies at Crafty Tuesday morning this week. They were involved in finishing off the sheets and making some more poppies on skewers to plant around the mats of poppies.

127This is a photo that Belinda took on Tuesday morning. We had laid out the sheets of poppies to see how they looked. There are a few poppies in a jar too.  The letters, ANZAC , will be standing up when the display is set out.

I am planning to go across to the War Memorial early ANZAC Day with a few other people and we'll put out some of the poppies, especially some on skewers. However, they will have to be collected and then put out again for the 11am service because there will be no-one around for a few hours.

 It is an exciting time, the culmination of lots of hard work by many people. I will post some photos after the service on Saturday.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Great Lakes Advocate article

Wow! What a wonderful article that Rebecca Casson has written about our poppy project. She has included a lovely photo and it's all on the front page!!
If interested, go to to read the article.

It's great publicity for the church and for the project.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Rededication of Tuncurry War Memorial 22nd Feb 2015

This was a truly memorable day – not least of all because the forecast rain didn’t fall. We had lots of people praying for fine weather and the Lord must have heeded our prayers. When we arrived at 9am to put out the poppies along the paths, there were black clouds overhead, but by the time the service stated at 11am we had blue skies and hot sun – Thanks Lord!
Ted Bickford and all his assistants, young and old, helped us put out double rows of poppies along all the pathways and a single row around the inner garden areas. When we realised we still had more poppies on the Velcro strips, the young girls decided to put the letters ANZAC out on the bank behind the memorial.
It looked great too. The poppies with dedications on them were placed at the back of the main monument. We had about 4,500 poppies on the Velcro strips - lots of work by many many women!
Graeme Kernick, secretary to the Tuncurry-Forster RSL sub-branch, was the MC and did an excellent job, despite having to stand sweltering in the hot sun for a long time. Early in the service, he acknowledged the work done by the Great Lakes 5000 Poppies project and then asked Julie and I to come forward. We were surprised and honoured to each receive a medal for our work in starting and encouraging the work of all the ladies who contributed to the great visual display there. We feel the medals belong to all the contributors, not just us.
Frank Brady, the President of the Sub-branch, and Pastor Moran delivered excellent addresses before the rededication of the War memorial at Tuncurry in the Lone Pine Memorial Park. This War memorial had been moved so more people could be accommodated at services such as ANZAC Day and is now centred on the Lone Pine planted by the Vietnam Vets in 2007. This pine tree is an offspring from trees that were grown from pine cones taken from the Lone Pine battlefield in Gallipoli.
After the service, many of us enjoyed food from the Halliday’s Point Lions club sitting in the shade and enjoying the good Newcastle Army band concert. They had played also during the service.
It was an excellent day and makes us even more enthusiastic about ANZAC Day this year when we plan to have a field of poppies behind the Memorials. There probably won’t be much more in the blog until then. We'll all be very busy attaching several thousand poppies to sheets! - Margot

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Thanks to our husbands

Both Julie Davies and I, Margot Bilston, are married to wonderful men who have supported us during the past 12 months since we started this 5000 poppy project. John and Ken's immense forbearance has meant we've been able to devote lots of time and energy to the project. I know they will be pleased when we hand over the poppies to the R.S.L. sub- branch on ANZAC Day. Then they hope to have their wives' full attention again and homes free of poppies! However, John and Ken, there's another 2 months to go.

The rededication today turned out very well indeed and as usual, John and Ken were there to support and help us.

Thank you John and Ken.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015


This will be a short post but it's reminding you that the rededication of the Tuncurry War Memorial will occur this Sunday 22nd. at 11am. There will be a band present too, and a BBQ lunch at the Memorial Hall after the band concert. It sounds like a great program for the day and we're all praying for fine weather.

Ted Bickford, our extraordinary Graffiti Buster in Forster-Tuncurry, has organise about 12 young people (and parents) to come and assist Julie and me put out the poppies. Our husbands, John and Ken, are also helping.They have been really marvellous supporting us in this project but I'm sure they will be very  happy to have homes free of poppies after ANZAC Day.

Yesterday, Julie and I collected the red painted letters - A, N, Z, A, C - from the Men's shed here. They look great! The letters are 50cms tall and will go on tree guards near the War Memorial on ANZAC Day.

Today we had some more lovely women come to join us on our Crafty Tuesday morning at the Church hall to make poppies. They had seen our ad in the Advocate where we were appealing for more poppies. We've attached about 4,500 poppies to the approx. 240m of Velcro strips - to be used on Sunday. Julie and a couple of other women are working to cover strips of sheeting with poppies but that takes quite a long time to do. There are over 800 poppies on a single bed sheet. The poppies are attached to wide strips of sheeting using a price tagging gun - we now have several of these guns to make things go faster.

It's great to see that poppies continue to be delivered to the parish office so we will make a reasonable field of poppies for ANZAC Day. PLEASE KEEP THEM COMING EVERYONE.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

2015 - close to War Memorial Rededication on 22nd Feb

It's a long time since my last post but there's been a big family gathering here over Christmas and New Year so poppies have been rather neglected. It seems that most of our poppy makers have also been otherwise occupied as there weren't many poppies handed in early in January.

Today we received about 350 - wonderful! This means we probably have collected well over 12,000 poppies now and on the way to 13,000. We've really stopped counting every one as we're using poppies in different ways. Some poppies are going on to sheets to create a field of poppies on ANZAC Day and lots are going on to Velcro strips.

 This photo shows a few poppies along the new pathway.

These strips of poppies will be used to line the pathways when the Tuncurry War Memorial is rededicated on 22nd February. We're delighted that our wonderful graffiti Buster, Ted Bickford, and his helpers are going to assist in putting out and picking up the poppies on 22nd. Feb. Many thanks to Ted and your group for helping us in this way -  the Great Lakes 5000 Poppies ladies!

We've placed and ad in the local paper, The Advocate, for 11th Feb and we're appealing to the public for more poppies. We need more so we have enough to line the pathways and to cover the sheets for ANZAC Day.

We've also made many smaller poppies and stitched brooch pins to the back of them. The RSL sub-branch people will take as many as possible of these as they like to wear them on ordinary shirts. We gave some of these small poppies and a variety of larger poppies to 14 school children and the accompanying adults who are travelling overseas to visit war cemeteries and see battlefields in Europe in April. They will place the larger poppies on gravestones. It's unfortunate that the situation in Turkey has meant that schools are not taking pupils to Gallipoli now.

Here are some of the wonderful poppy makers at a Tuesday morning workshop.

We're all ages and are enjoying the friendship here as we work and chat.