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One of the country’s leading employment charities for wounded, injured and sick veterans has been awarded the borough’s highest honour in recognition of its work.

As part of the borough’s commemoration activities to mark the end of 100 years since World War 1, councillors presented representatives from The Poppy Factory with the honour at a special Council meeting last night.

The Poppy Factory was founded in 1922 by Major George Howson MC to provide employment for veterans injured during The First World War. These veterans were employed making Remembrance products for The Royal British Legion and for The Royal Family.

It moved to the borough in 1925, based at the former Lansdown Brewery site on the Petersham Road in Richmond and last year they made over 6 million Remembrance poppies and 146,000 wreaths. Since 2010 The Poppy Factory has also supported ex-Forces men and women across England, Wales and Northern Ireland back into work in their communities, and this summer it reached the milestone of supporting more than 1,000 veterans into meaningful and sustained employment.

Cllr Gareth Roberts, Leader of Richmond Council, proposed the motion. He said:

“From helping veterans across the country overcome adversity and get back into work, to empowering those to contribute to such an honourable cause, the magnificent work of The Poppy Factory is a credit to the borough. Freedom of the Borough is a small honour we can present them to recognise the leading role they have been playing in the lives of veterans and their families since World War 1.”

Deirdre Mills, Chief Executive of the Poppy Factory, said:

“It is such a tremendous honour for The Poppy Factory to be awarded the Freedom of the borough of Richmond. We offer our sincere thanks to the Council for recognising the deep and historic connection that our charity has with the borough, which will remain our home as we extend our reach to more wounded, injured and sick veterans across the UK.”

Cllr Paul Hodgins, Leader of the Opposition, seconded the proposal, added:

“The Poppy Factory is one of the jewels of Richmond. It was a privilege to visit them earlier this year, and I was fascinated to see the history they have on display. I was also very moved to see the work they do to support veterans in need who have so honourably served our country. Not only is the Freedom of the Borough fully deserved, I hope it will help raise awareness of the Poppy Factory even further. I would encourage both residents and visitors to our borough to make time to visit the Poppy Factory. It will be an experience they will not forget.”

Cllr Michael Butlin, Armed Forces Champion for Richmond Council, said:

“At this time as we remember the End of World War One it is the right time to honour the service to our community, our countries’ veterans and their dependants given by The Poppy Factory.

“The Poppy Factory has been a constant reminder that we as a community must never forget the fallen, those disabled in service of our country and their dependants

This need to remember is renewed every time one of our service personnel is placed in harms way today and in the future. The Poppy Factory we thank you with the Freedom of The Borough”

— from a Richmond Council press release - 12 December 2018