A couple of weeks ago, I was flitting about the manicured installations at one of my favourite annual events, RHS Chelsea Flower Show. I roamed through everyone else’s idea of oasis, inquisitive yet somewhat aloof tinged lightly of green envy. I almost convinced myself that I fitted primly into the horticultural set.
It wasn’t until I reached the scarlet sea of over 30,000 crocheted poppies that I had cause to expand and marvel at those brave souls represented in front of me.
I have always been in awe of the Chelsea Pensioners, they are vibrant figures of national pride and, ever so secretly, sheer gumption that you wouldn’t believe. I have, rather proudly, attended a tea dance with a mildly handsy gent and lost my favourite hat to a poker game. They may be old, but they’re pretty darn savvy.
As is always the case with time, it ticks by unnoticed most of the time, but for the men and women at Chelsea Hospital, it is a reminder of all that they have seen, lost and fought for.
2016 marks the centenary year of the Battle of Jutland, a pivotal moment in the struggle for naval supremacy in the First World War. Over 6,000 members of the maritime community lost their lives. I’m ashamed to say that it wasn’t even on my radar until I went for tea with the aforementioned tea dance flirt, but, luckily, charity, Every Man Remembered is passionately collecting and compiling a list of dedications that represent the astonishingly great service and sacrifice, showing the ordinary servicemen who became extraordinary heroes. Every Man Remembered already has 22,1497 dedications registered and hope to commemorate and honour the lives of those left behind and inspire courage and strength for those following in their footsteps. Over 1.1 million Service men and women lost their lives during the First World War. The world is invited to create a dedication to one of them, and to place a poppy on Everyman’s map in their memory.
You can search their database for someone to commemorate, or commemorate the centenary of the Battle of Somme. Please encourage your family, friends, colleagues and local organisations to do the same. Schools, libraries and genealogy societies can all take part in this unique act of Remembrance.