GCHQ launches Gloucestershire’s 2014 Poppy Appeal
Live On - To the memory of the fallen and the future of the living
Press release - 24 Oct 2014
To launch this year’s Royal British Legion Gloucestershire County Poppy Appeal, around 1400 GCHQ staff, both civilian and military, worked together to create a giant poppy in the centre of the iconic GCHQ ‘doughnut’ building in Cheltenham.
The poppy, representing Remembrance of the past and hope for the future, was created using Royal Navy personnel wearing black uniforms to form the centre. They were surrounded by GCHQ staff in red rain ponchos and other military personnel in green combat dress to form the stalk.
In a year that marks the Centenary of the conflict which gave birth to the poppy as a symbol of Remembrance and hope, the Legion’s role remains as contemporary and as vital as ever, supporting today’s generation of Armed Forces families and veterans.
GCHQ has a long history of supporting the military, stretching back to 1914. Whenever and wherever British forces have deployed, GCHQ has been ready to assist, providing intelligence to help to keep UK troops safe. This enduring connection meant that there was no shortage of volunteers to help the Gloucestershire Legion with their efforts in the centenary year of World War One.
The completed poppy measured 38 meters in diameter with a 28 meter long stalk. It was made up of 100 military and 1308 civilian staff. Thanks to military planning and some loud hailers, it took just over an hour to get everyone into position.
GCHQ’s brass band, ‘Top Secret Brass’ provided rousing music to keep spirits up whilst everyone got into place. The mood was light at times, a Mexican wave was attempted but as the helicopter flew overhead to take the aerial shots, a poignant silence fell over the courtyard in a shared moment of reflection. The event gave all involved the chance to actively show their support to the Legion and military family.
One of the GCHQ participants who made up part of the petal described his experience. He said: "I was really proud to take part and show my support for the Royal British Legion by coming together with my colleagues, united in purpose, to honour those who have served and continue to serve this country".
Nicole Mayall, Community Fundraiser for Gloucestershire’s Poppy Appeal said: "It is so moving to see so many people standing together to support the work of The Royal British Legion and launch this year’s Poppy Appeal. We are so grateful to all the staff at GCHQ who have made this possible. The money raised through the Poppy Appeal goes directly to the Legion’s welfare work providing through life care to anyone who is currently serving in the British Armed Forces, who has previously served, and their families".
Chris, a GCHQ civilian employee who had previously deployed overseas to support the military spoke about his impressions of the day, he said: "I’ve worked with the military in Afghanistan and seen first-hand how GCHQ intelligence can help keep UK troops safe whilst on operation. I’m proud to see so many from GCHQ come together today to show their support for the Royal British Legion and the military family".
Participants were invited to make a donation to take part, £1730 was raised. The ponchos left over will be donated to local charities namely a number of scout groups in the local area and Bloodbikes, a charity providing out of hours emergency medical courier service to Gloucestershire and the surrounding counties.
Notes for Editors
A selection of photographs are available from the Poppy gallery. If you require video footage, please contact GCHQ press office for a DVD.
Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) is one of the three UK Intelligence and Security Agencies, along with MI5 and the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6). GCHQ works to protect the UK and its citizens from a range of threats to national security, including from terrorism, serious and organised crime and cyber-attack. It also works to protect UK forces wherever they are deployed and, through its Information Security arm CESG, provides policy and assistance on the security of Government communications and electronic data.
At the heart of GCHQ’s support to the military is our staff. In recent conflicts GCHQ staff have volunteered in numbers to deploy to warzones to help keep the military safe. 90 GCHQ staff have received the medal for service in Iraq, 156 for service in Afghanistan.
During November 2014, a number of memories and reflections of GCHQ staff who have worked to support the military - from WWI to present day will be shared on the GCHQ website. Please check back to our website for further information from 1st November.
Further information about GCHQ can be found on our website: www.gchq.gov.uk
About the Royal British Legion
The Royal British Legion is the nation's leading Armed Forces charity. The Legion provides immediate support and life-long care to Armed Forces families in need, spending 1.4 million each week to deliver direct, practical care and support to the Armed Forces community.
The Poppy Appeal 2014 introduces the Legion’s new position: Live On - To the memory of the fallen and the future of the living. This message provides a clear understanding of what The Royal British Legion does. Remembrance is a hugely significant part of our work, but we also help the living to approach their future with hope. Through our Live On message we aim to capture the public’s imagination and reaffirm the meaning of the poppy as a symbol of both Remembrance and hope.
Key RBL Messages
- The Poppy Appeal 2014 has one key message: Live On – to the memory of the fallen and the future of the living.
- Live On describes both equally important parts of our work:
As Custodian of Remembrance we ensure the memories of those who have fought and sacrificed in the British Armed Forces live on through the generations.
Through our welfare work we help the British Armed Forces, veterans, and their families to live on to a more hopeful future.
- The Royal British Legion created the Poppy Appeal to help those returning from the First World War. A century on from the start of that conflict, we‘re still helping today’s Armed Forces families in much the same way, whether coping with bereavement, living with disability, or finding employment.
- In a year that marks the Centenary of the conflict which gave birth to the poppy as a symbol of Remembrance and hope, the Legion’s role remains as contemporary and as vital as it has ever been supporting today’s generation of Armed Forces families and veterans.
- The money raised through the Poppy Appeal goes directly to The Royal British Legion’s welfare work providing through life care to anyone who is currently serving in the British Armed Forces, who has previously served, and their families. The fundraising target for the Poppy Appeal 2014 is a record £40m, an increase on last year’s total of £39m.
- The poppy is a powerful symbol which is worn to commemorate the sacrifices of our Armed Forces and to show support to those still serving today and their loved ones.
Royal British Legion
The Legion is here to help – if you are a member of the Armed Forces in need please get in touch with our contact centre on 0808 802 8080