White poppies have sold in record numbers this year – the highest amount since they were first worn by the Co-operative Women’s Guild in 1933.
On 7 November the Peace Pledge Union (PPU) had sold 119,555 white poppies – up from 101,00 last year – and it expects the figure to continue to increase in the run-up to Remembrance Sunday.
The white poppies were first made by members of the Co-operativeWomen’s Guild, who wanted to pay tribute to those who had lost their lives in the Great War while pledging themselves to peace.
In 1936 the white poppy was adopted by the Peace Pledge Union, which now coordinates the initiative. The guild disbanded in 2015 after 132 years of activity.
The white poppies represent all victims of war, including civilians, ambulance drivers and those who fought for a different country.
According to PPU, the number of shops and other outlets known to be selling white poppies has risen by almost a third. These include worker or community co-operatives such as the Single Step Co-operative in Lancaster, the Daily Bread Co-operative in Cambridge, the New Leaf Co-operative in Edinburgh and the Honeysuckle Wholefoods Co-operative in Oswestry. Some Co-op Group supermarkets and Co-operative Bank branches also sell the poppies.
Schools have made 70 orders for the white poppies schools pack, more then double the figure in 2017. The PPU received 34 orders for the new White Poppies for Churches pack as well.
The schools pack is produced jointly by the PPU and Forces Watch, while the churches pack is produced jointly by the PPU and the Fellowship of Reconciliation.
Sophie Morrison of the Peace Pledge Union said: “In a world where the news is full of violence and the rise of nationalism, it is encouraging to see so many people upholding different values. In the centenary of the end of World War I, revulsion at the wastefulness of war is leading many people to remember the victims of war by working for peace.
“Of course we are very pleased to have distributed so many white poppies but it is the meaning behind the symbol that matters. If everyone who wears a white poppy takes action against militarism and war, and works for peace and active nonviolence, that would be a fitting memorial to the millions of civilians and combatants whose lives have been wasted in war.”