Pupils prepare cascade of poppies

Culloden Academy Poppies
Jo Lenihan (centre) with Cllr Balfour (right) and Cllr Robertson (left)

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The newly appointed Armed Forces Covenant Development Officer for Highland and Moray, Jo Lenihan visited Culloden Academy today (Wednesday 1 November) with the Council’s Armed Forces and Veterans Champion, Cllr Roddy Balfour to see the work pupils are doing to dramatically recreate the poppy cascade displayed at the Tower of London.

This ambitious project has involved staff, pupils and the wider community. An appeal for people to create and donate poppies has been a great success with local churches, primary schools, brownies, boy’s brigade, voluntary groups and individuals donating all styles of crafted poppies. 

School pupils are busy attaching all the varied assortments of crafted poppies onto a 40 metre square of netting which will hang from the internal balcony of the school to mark Armistice week. 

Culloden Academy Poppies

Duncan Forbes Primary pupils attaching their poppies

The project has harnessed classes to get involved and some larger card poppies used include war poetry while some smaller ones have the names of the fallen or of family or loved ones who serve written on them. 

The ambitious project is the idea of Depute Head, Tracey Lomas who said: “At the start of October I spent a very humbling afternoon with some of our pupils listening to the pressures they face as children of Armed Forces and Veterans families and I came up with the idea as a way for the whole school community to show our support for the Poppy appeal this year in very visual display.

“The response from pupils, organisations and the public has been amazing. At the start we were worried we would not have enough poppies but now the rush is on to get them all attached.  People have been very creative and there is a wide variety of mediums used including paper, photographs and fabric plus crochet and knitted poppies. I would like to thank everyone for really getting behind our idea and we are all looking forward to seeing the display cascading down our atrium.”

Frances Beveridge from PoppyScotland said: “It is fantastic that Culloden Academy are doing this memorial for the Scottish Poppy Appeal and going the extra mile by trying to get as many of the local schools and community groups involved.  I delighted to hear that the community have come together to show their support and I look forward to seeing the poppy cascade when it is complete. Poppyscotland relies on public support to fund our life-changing support for the Armed Forces community and I am sure this will inspire many people to dig even deeper for this year’s Appeal”

Jo Lenihan, a dedicated Armed Forces Covenant Development Officer who will be working closely with personnel at RAF Lossiemouth, Kinloss Barracks and Fort George, as well as local businesses, public and third sector organisations, to make sure military families and veterans get full access to local services and support was impressed with the hard work pupils were doing. She said: “This is a very creative and eye-catching way to get the whole school working together and I am sure all the young people, especially those children from Armed Forces and Veterans families have got a lot out of being so hands-on.”

Moray Council and Highland Council have joined forces to secure Jo’s post which is funded by MoD’s Covenant Fund. Its task is to fulfil the government’s promise to those serving, past and present - that they and their families are guaranteed to be treated fairly.

Jo previously served in the Royal Air Force for eight years as a supplier, while her husband has recently completed 29 years’ service. They’ve both previously served at RAF Lossiemouth and have returned north with their two daughters, after 13 years away.

Jo said she’s delighted to have secured this ‘fantastic opportunity’ which combines two important parts of her life – the north of Scotland and the military. “I’m thrilled to be back and to have the chance to get to know local personnel and their families,” she said. 
“Our Armed Forces, particularly here in Moray and Highland, play such a major role in the local community.

“I’m looking forward to progress the already good work that has been achieved in offering our service families such a good experience of life here.”

Culloden Academy Poppies

Jo Lenihan helps Duncan Forbes Primary pupils attach poppies to the cascade

Councillor Roddy Balfour, The Highland Council’s Armed Forces and Veterans Champion,  believes the appointment of Jo would help strengthen the support offered to military personnel. He said: “Both Moray and Highland Council have signed the Armed Forces Covenant and strive to provide the best experience to our military communities. We’re grateful for the power of work the community development officers do for our forces families and I know that having Jo on board will only add to this and ensure greater awareness of the Covenant.”

1 Nov 2017
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