News Article

GCHQ draws schools in for poppy picture competition

Last Updated: 11 Nov 2014
Over 500 local pupils create poppy-themed artwork ahead of Remembrance Day.



Poppy overall winner
The overall winner Diego Cisneros with his headmaster Stephen McKernan

News article - 11 Nov 2014

To commemorate the centenary of World War One and in support of the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal, GCHQ invited primary schools in Cheltenham and Gloucester to take part in a Poppy picture competition. Students from reception to year six were invited to design and colour a 'poppy-themed' picture.

The response was superb, with 501 pictures received from 14 schools.

Judging the competition was very difficult but eventually six winners and six runners-up were selected, plus one that was highly commended. See our Poppy picture gallery.

Diego Cisneros, age 9, of St Edward's Preparatory School, was chosen as the overall winner, due to the quality of his painting and the way he incorporated elements of the well-known World War One poem ‘In Flanders Fields’ by John McCrae into his design.

Diego said, 'We read a poem in class which inspired me to draw my picture. It took me three lessons to finish it. I'm excited to be here as I think it's important that we remember all the people who died in the war.'

Diego enjoyed coming into GCHQ, which he'd only seen in photographs before. "My friends are going to want to know everything that I saw today!" he said.

Stephen McKernan, headmaster of St Edward's, added, 'I'm impressed by the fact that GCHQ values the contribution of young people and how they see things. It's important that all children see and learn from the past to work out the future.'

The other winners were Viera Madden, 5, of Berkhampstead School, Charlotte Tonge, 9, and Emily Gabryelska, 10, both Charlton Kings Junior School, Eloise Cox, 10, Naunton Park Primary School, and Lorcan Knox, 11, Dean Close Preparatory School.

As part of their prize, the six winners were invited with their teachers to come into GCHQ on 11 November to tour the building and see their pictures displayed. They were given goodie bags to take home, and had the chance to play with an Enigma machine. 


poppy winners
The six winners (left to right): Emily, Charlotte, Viera, Eloise, Diego and Lorcan

RBL Gloucestershire County Chairman Group Captain Anny Reid OBE, who judged the competition along with a GCHQ representative, said:

"It was my pleasure as the RBL County Chairman to be asked to judge these poignant poppy pictures. I would like to give every child a prize."

Viki, GCHQ’s Outreach Coordinator, added:

It has been a privilege to support the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal in this World War One centenary year. The response to our poppy colouring competition has been fantastic and we have been so impressed with each and every one of the 501 entries. I would like to thank all the children who took part for taking so much time and trouble with their pictures which were thoughtful and poignant reminders of the sacrifices made by so many. We have all enjoyed looking at them displayed around our building. Thank you!'

The pictures, many of which were extremely moving, have been on display inside GCHQ since the beginning of November and have attracted admiring and poignant comments from GCHQ staff.

GCHQ helped RBL Gloucestershire launch this year’s County Poppy Appeal when around 1400 civilian and military staff worked together to create a giant poppy in the centre of GCHQ’s iconic ‘doughnut’ building in Cheltenham.

GCHQ’s historian Tony Comer presented Group Captain Anny with a cheque for £1,730.09, raised by GCHQ staff for RBL during the Human Poppy event. In turn, Group Captain Anny presented GCHQ with a certificate of thanks.


RBL Cheque
GCHQ Historian Tony Comer presents RBL Gloucestershire County Chairman Group Captain Anny Reid with a cheque for the amount raised by GCHQ staff during the Human Poppy event

GCHQ has a strong and enduring relationship supporting the Military. Throughout November GCHQ is holding a Month of Remembrance to commemorate 100 years since the start of World War One and also the centenary of the birth of British Signals intelligence. As part of this, a special section of our website features important moments from Signals Intelligence history and also reminiscences of GCHQ staff who have worked with the Military.


RBL In Support of Logo