Colin Grainger

Poppies at the Tower … and feeling good to be British

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It was an honour and a privilege to be part of the de-installation of the ceramic poppies at the Tower of London today.

Six weeks ago, it was also great to be part of the army of volunteers putting the poppies in at the tower with my good friend Willie Myers.

The Tower moat was turned red throughout the installation of 888,246 ceramic poppies created by artists Paul Cummins and Tom Piper.

The installation has attracted nearly five million visitors and thousands of volunteers gave up their time to help create and dismantle the work. Like Remembrance Day and Armistice, it has helped honour those people who gave their lives so that we may all enjoy the freedom of today.

Honouring that sacrifice is a way of life for millions and this unique creation must now rank as one of the most iconic pieces of artwork in our lives.

And unlike some of the few sad souls who have mocked this work, I believe this will take a firm place in history for all the right reasons.

And in many ways, taking part in the experience seems to have re-gnited my right to feel ‘normal’ and also very much proud of being British and taking pride in my country.

We can learn a thing or two from the Americans in this respect. Too often the average man or woman in the street seems to be criticised for having pride in the country they live. You get the impression that flying the Cross of St George or Union Flag is a crime.

Thousands of people gave up their time for nothing to help create the special display at The Tower. And what I experienced, and what many of my friends who have done the same have experienced, is that is was a special thing to be part of. The make of people was many and varied. All cultures, a variety of ages, a real mix of people, who all instantly made friends.

The poppies each marked someone who gave their life. Now, each one we took out today, will be sold to raise money for the vital work done by charities like the Royal British Legion.


Last month and today I saw the Great British Spirit in action. I see in each year in the work that a very special charity, Community Links, does. I see it by charities like Celia Hammond’s animal welfare charity. I see by parent teacher associations. I see it when people donate blood. I see it by so many voluntary groups, so many volunteers, so many people doing good in all our communities. People going the extra mile.

Community spirit, British spirit… today it was total strangers coming together, organising, helping and doing something for the common good. Giving something back, doing what normal people do, caring for each other.

It was a real joy and I feel honoured to have been allowed to played a small part. It reminded me of the special spirit the atmosphere that was in evidence at the Olympic Games in Newham two years,

The poppies will now be cleaned, packaged and sent off to thousands who have supported the project.

But let’s never lose the spirit that exists in all of us. And it’s ok to feel good about what you’ve done and its ok to feel good about being British.



One Comment

  1. Laura Grainger
    November 25, 2014

    Lovely article Colin.

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This article was written on 24 Nov 2014, and is filed under Colin Grainger, community spirit, Remembrance.

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