The building products manufacturer Forterra has donated £500 to the Whittlesey Poppy Blitz (WPB) to help them paint the town purple.

WPB is a charity group that creates blazing displays of purple poppies across the town of Whittlesey, in Peterborough, near Forterra's Kings Dyke factory.

Forterra donated the money as part of its community fund, hoping to help the WPB's 2023 blitz showcase.

Cambs Times: Knitted soldiers, sailors and home front workers.Knitted soldiers, sailors and home front workers. (Image: Forterra)

Who are the WHB?

After the COVID pandemic left millions of people homebound, many found themselves feeling disconnected and isolated from their family, their friends, and their local community.

In an effort to knit the Whittlesey community back together, locals Jackie, Jane and Jenny spearheaded the 'Whittlesey Poppy Blitz', a volunteer poppy-knitting charity group aimed at raising funds for the Royal British Legion.

"It started when we realised that the COVID restrictions prevented the Royal British Legion from doing their yearly Poppy Appeal," says Jackie Fryett, one of the founding members and chief organisers of the Poppy Blitz.

"We had already been volunteering for the 'Helping Whittlesey' group, which arranged shopping deliveries and hot meals for pensioners during lockdown.


"But when we delivered the supplies, we often found the pensioners were feeling very lonely and listless. We also noticed that many of them were using their hobby of knitting to get through the long days.

"Whittlesey Poppy Blitz was a response to these combined observations. If we could get pensioners and any other willing volunteers to knit poppies and raise money for the Royal British Legion, we could continue to support the charity in a way that also ensured our pensioners were given a purpose and some form of interaction over the lockdown period.

"We gathered the knitted poppies together, draped them over wooden frames specially constructed for the purpose, and placed the finished products in the town centre for a blazing display of community spirit and solidarity."

In its first year, 2020, the poppy blitz raised nearly £3,000 for the poppy appeal, with local businesses chipping in.

MOST READ TODAY: Village pub landlords celebrate nine years at the helm

2021 saw similar funds raised for the Royal British Legion Veteran's Society for Mental Health, and 2022 again saw almost £3,000 raised for the local Royal British Legion, with some funds going towards the purchase of uniforms for local army cadets.

Why Purple?

For its 2023 appeal, the Poppy Blitz has commissioned the students of Peterborough Technical College to construct a life-sized metal horse.

Over this will be draped a decorative weave of purple poppies, the colour that service animals wore during the First World War.

Forterra's donation will go towards the purchase of materials to construct a metal soldier and metal dogs, which will be draped with decorative poppies and placed in the town centre.

Caroline Wildman, Marketing Director for Forterra, said: "The Whittlesey Poppy Blitz has demonstrated year after year the power of community spirit during times of crisis.

"We're delighted to be able to support this initiative and eagerly await the unveiling of 2023's blitz showcase."