Poppies return to Harrogate and Ripon streets to mark Remembrance Day countdown

A group of local volunteers have overcome Covid-19 restrictions to kick off this year’s Poppy Appeal.

Friday, 16th October 2020, 2:27 pm
Updated Friday, 16th October 2020, 2:28 pm

The small team of four, led by Coun Stuart Martin, Mayor of Harrogate Borough, began placing poppies around Ripon this morning, Friday, with similar plans in place for Harrogate next week.

This year’s appeal was nearly halted by the coronavirus pandemic, but Public Health England advised that displays were permitted so long as preparation adhered to social distancing guidelines.

Coun Martin said: “Everyone needs cheering up at the moment, so we have been placing the poppies around the city and surrounding businesses to brighten the streets.

Poppies are being placed around Ripon and Harrogate as the Remembrance Day countdown begins.

“We were initially prepared to take a year off because we thought we would be in a higher Covid alert tier, meaning we would not be able to mix with different households. Fortunately, this is not the case, if we are socially distant and wearing face coverings.

“The most difficult thing has been having to turn down requests from local people wanting to help put the poppies up. We have thanked them for their kindness, but unfortunately cannot take the risk of forming a large group. Consequently, we will not get as many poppies up as we would like to.”

Ripon’s Poppy Appeal began in 2018 to commemorate the 100-year anniversary since the end of World War I.

The original idea was to hold a parade through Ripon, from the Spa Gardens to the cathedral, but plans escalated after a viral social media post.

“Things ended up going crazy on social media overnight, so much so that we ended up with over 60,000 poppies coming from countries all over the world,” Coun Martin said. “Volunteers spread out through the city, putting the poppies all over the place, with a light show across the cathedral to compliment them. Since then, its popularity has only accelerated.”

He has urged residents to stay at home on Remembrance Day to observe a two-minute silence from their doorstep, placing poppies on show from their windows.

He said: “Sadly, there will be no parade this year. Let’s pay tribute from our doorsteps, just like we did for keyworkers on Thursday nights.

“Right now, this is the best way to remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice during conflict.”