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White poppy orders remain high despite lockdowns

White poppy seller at Dalston Junction railway station in London

White poppy orders remain high despite lockdowns

Sales of white poppies are only slightly lower than last year, despite the closure of shops and places of worship due to lockdown.

White poppies can still be ordered online from the Peace Pledge Union, who are now sending out orders first class until 11th November.

Most shops that sell white poppies in England are closed from today, while non-essential shops in Wales have been closed for nearly two weeks. But the Peace Pledge Union, who produce and distribute the white poppies, said that the number of online orders from individuals has gone up.

Meanwhile, white poppy orders from schools have increased since last year, along with orders of PPU educational materials.

White poppies stand for remembrance for all victims of war (civilian and military, of all nationalities), a commitment to peace and a rejection of militarism.

The last decade has seen the highest sales of white poppies since the 1930s. Most years, the number of white poppies sold is now slightly below or slightly above 100,000.

For the first time this year, Welsh-language white poppies are available to order online from the PPU, along with related Welsh-language leaflets.

Owing to the pandemic, fewer groups are able to sell white poppies in the street in local areas. Nonetheless, white poppies have this year been sold in the street in places including London and Glasgow, by volunteers wearing facemasks and being aware of Covid safety.

Yesterday, members of Hackney Black Lives Matter joined with other PPU members and supporters to sell white poppies at Dalston Junction station in London (pictured above).

Hundreds of people are expected to attend the PPU's National Alternative Remembrance Ceremony on Sunday, featuring contributions from Yemeni-British poet Amina Atiq and singer-songwriter Penny Stone. The ceremony will feature footage of people laying white poppy wreaths around the UK.

In modern warfare, civilian deaths far outstrip military casualties, but the red poppy doesn’t remember these innocent victims,” said Kathy Coutanche, a Royal Air Force veteran. “That’s why I wear a white poppy – because it remembers all victims of war and promotes a striving for peace over a celebration of of glorious sacrifice.”

As a veteran, Kathy added, “The argument that buying red poppies is necessary to support veterans shouldn’t even need to be made. It is the government’s duty to support veterans, not that of charities relying on donations.”

Vix Lothian, a secondary school History teacher on the Isle of Wight, said that the annual period of remembrance is an opportunity in our schools to reflect on the effects of war on combatants and civilians on all sides during war. She welcomed the PPU's new remembrance resources for schools.

Vix added, "The Black Lives Matter movement has reminded us that we need to explore the messy and complex realities of history. We need to remember colonial wars and current wars as well as the world wars, and be prepared to explore difficult questions which aspects of history to mourn and which to celebrate.”

The Peace Pledge Union has said that Remembrance Sunday could turn into a "festival of forgetting" if current wars such as the conflict in Yemen, along with neglected aspects of past wars, are not remembered.

White poppies can be ordered online by clicking here.