Photo credit: Peace Pledge Union

WHITE POPPIES will feature at a higher number of Remembrance Sunday ceremonies this year. They will be used in alternative ceremonies in cities including London, Edinburgh and Cardiff, as well as appearing as part of the official local ceremonies in several towns and cities.

The Peace Pledge Union says this is the latest sign that white poppies have become an increasingly recognised part of remembrance in the UK. The number of shops selling white poppies has more than doubled in five years, and more schools have been making them available alongside red poppies.

Hundreds of people are expected to attend the national Alternative Remembrance Sunday Ceremony at 12.00 noon on Remembrance Sunday – many in person in Tavistock Square, London and many others online.

The ceremony will involve two minutes’ silence and participants will lay wreaths of white poppies to remember all victims of war of all nationalities. There will be short contributions from speakers including Hamit Dardagan of Iraq Body Count, and Huda Ammori, the co-founder of Palestine Action, who has often taken nonviolent direct action against war and the arms trade.

White poppies will be at the centre of alternative ceremonies in cities including Edinburgh, Cardiff, Brighton and Derry/Londonderry as well as many smaller towns.

But in some towns, white poppies will feature as part of the official local ceremony rather than in alternative ceremonies. The local ceremony in Aberystwyth has featured both red and white poppies for some years, but the practice is becoming more common elsewhere.

For the first time, white poppy wearers in Leicester will place a wreath at the official ceremony, as other local groups place red poppy wreaths. Leicester University has already laid combined wreaths of red and white poppies.

White poppies stand for remembrance for all victims of war of all nationalities, as well as a commitment to peace and a rejection of militarism.

Geoff Tibbs of the Peace Pledge Union said: “White poppy wreaths are starting to appear at official ceremonies around the UK, as well as being at the centre of alternative ceremonies. Meanwhile BBC presenters are now allowed to wear white poppies and the number of shops selling them has doubled. These are all positive signs that the white poppy is becoming a more accepted part of the landscape at Remembrance time, as more people learn about their message and reject the myths and misunderstandings around them.

“A peaceful and inclusive culture of remembrance is vital at a time of growing global instability involving the Covid pandemic and climate emergency. Remembering the devastation caused by war around the world is an important step towards learning from the past, so we can work co-operatively across borders to build peace and real security in the present.”

Leicester resident and Peace Pledge Union member Andrew Bolton said: “White poppies count the full cost of war  – civilians and soldiers on all sides. We sense more the whole grief of war and money wasted that could contribute to human flourishing. White poppies symbolise a global ethic that is important in Leicester – perhaps the most diverse city in the country.”

White poppies were founded by the Co-operative Women’s Guild in 1933 and have been distributed by the Peace Pledge Union since 1981. Money raised through white poppy sales goes towards promoting nonviolent approaches to conflict and producing educational materials. This year more than 300 orders have been placed for the PPU’s Remembrance and White Poppies Education Pack for schools, the highest number since it was launched in 2017.

* More information, and to join the alternative Remembrance ceremony online here.

* Source: Peace Pledge Union