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St John Ambulance to allow workers to wear white poppies

White poppy on St John Ambulance uniform

St John Ambulance to allow workers to wear white poppies

The Peace Pledge Union (PPU) has praised St John Ambulance for a change in their rules that will allow workers to wear white poppies in the run-up to Remembrance Sunday.

The rules previously stated that a British Legion red poppy could be worn, but now state that a poppy is allowed without specifying the colour.

The change was brought about after Simone Ramacci, a St John Ambulance  volunteer and PPU member living in Colchester, asked to be allowed to  wear his white poppy while on duty.

White poppies, produced and distributed by the Peace Pledge Union, represent remembrance for all victims of war of all nationalities, a commitment to peace and a rejection of attempts to glamorise or sanitise war.

In contrast, the British Legion state that red poppies commemorate only British and allied armed forces personnel and that they show "support for the armed forces".

The PPU said that St John Ambulance was recognising the reality that remembrance is a complex and sensitive topic about which there are many different views.

Simone Ramacci, PPU member and St John Ambulance volunteer, said:

"I realised that I could not in good conscience wear the red poppy, which has fallen from representing remembrance of countless war deaths to being a symbol of lip service to 'our troops' whilst letting the 
government outsource veteran support to a charity that accepts money from weapons manufacturers.

"I am happy to say that after much consultation the St John Ambulance Standards of Dress Group informed me that the policy now allows a poppy to be worn without mandating its colour. I hope more organisations will  follow St John Ambulance's lead in becoming more inclusive."

Symon Hill, Co-ordinator of the Peace Pledge Union, said:

"We're pleased that St JohnAmbulance has recognised that many people wish to remember victims of war without the military associations of the red poppy. How we remember the past affects how we live in the present. It's vital that we value non-British lives, and civilian lives, as much as the lives of British military personnel.

"Remembrance is an important and sensitive topic and we need to listen to each other's perspectives. It is not appropriate for the British Legion to continue to claim to be 'custodians of Remembrance' when they represent only one particular approach to it."