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Total white poppy sales this year: 122,385

White poppy sellers in Hackney, London

Total white poppy sales this year: 122,385

The Peace Pledge Union has thanked everyone who has worn a white poppy in the run-up to Remembrance Sunday this year.

By Remembrance Sunday 2018, the PPU had sold 122,385 white poppies. This is the highest number in any year since white poppies were introduced in 1933.

White poppies represent remembrance for all victims of war of all nationalities, a commitment to peace and a rejection of militarism. The PPU said the rise in the number of people wearing white poppies showed growing support for these values. 

"We want to thank everyone who has worn a white poppy this year," said PPU Co-ordinator Symon Hill. "Furthermore, we owe particular thanks to people who helped to distribute and promote white poppies. The PPU has only a small staff team and its work would not be possible without the dedication and commitment of volunteers who have distributed them in their local streets, packed them in the PPU's offices, delivered them to shops and other outlets or promoted them in their local communities."

The PPU's Sophie Morrison, who oversees and organises the distribution of white poppies, added, "We are very pleased to have distributed so many white poppies, but it is the meaning behind the symbol that matters. If everyone who wears a white poppy takes action against militarism and war, and works for peace and active nonviolence, that would be a fitting memorial to the millions of civilians and combatants whose lives have been wasted in war.”

Remembrance is a key focus for the PPU, a pacifist organisation that campaigns on a range of issues relating to war, peace and nonviolence. 

With white poppy sales more than 20% higher than last year, several shops and other venues selling white poppies found themselves repeatedly re-ordering stock from the PPU. In Salford, the Working Class Movement Library tweeted two days before Remembrance Sunday that they had only a few left, so people needed to hurry to buy one. Despite reordering, the Oxfam shop in Swansea ran out shortly before Remembrance Sunday and added a note to the empty box declaring, "Sold out. World peace is on its way.". 

There were ceremonies involving white poppies on Remembrance Sunday, or in the days leading up to it, in at least 15 towns and cities around Britain, including London, Leeds, Glasgow, Exeter and Norwich. Many of these have been organised at a local level by grassroots activists and peace groups. 

Meanwhile, the decision by the Lord Mayors of Bristol and Sheffield to wear white poppies during their Remembrance Sunday duties seems to have attracted more supportive comments than critical ones, in their own cities and on social media.

But despite the rise in support for white poppies, militarist trolls have continued to attack white poppy wearers and PPU members on social media, a practice that even the British Legion went on Twitter to condemn

Sadly, a white poppy wreath laid by Quakers in Bath has already been stolen from the war memorial. White poppy wreaths are frequently stolen or vandalised by militarists who object to remembrance for people of all nationalities or to the white poppy's association with working for peace.