By Sapphire Hope, Third year, Politics and International Relations
The Mayor of the West of England, Dan Norris, boarded a special Remembrance Day memorial train to London on Friday, November 10.
Mayor Norris departed from Bristol Parkway at 8.56am - to arrive at London Paddington at 10.14am - equipped with a wreath to be officially laid at the London station for the Great Western Rail’s (GWR) Remembrance service.
Poppy wreaths made by people across the Bristol region also made the journey to London.
Organised by The Veteran’s Charity and GWR, ‘Poppies to Paddington’ began during the pandemic - when Remembrance Day events were suspended due to social distancing measures – so that tributes could still be paid to fallen servicemen and women.
The Veterans Charity has described the journey as a symbol of the long journey made by soldiers on their way to war.
Iain Henderson, a Trustee of the Veterans Charity, said: ‘Thanks to GWR and our friends in HM Armed Forces, the Emergency Services, and numerous other groups and charities who support veterans, Poppies to Paddington has meant that people from across the region could still pay respects and remember those who fought and remember those who died in conflicts from World War I to Afghanistan.’
The operation has become an annual event that aims to transport wreaths from all over the Southwest to London Paddington, involving ten train services in over 60 stations.
Military personnel and veterans attending services of remembrance are permitted to travel for free on GWR throughout this weekend.
In 2020, more than 231 wreaths were transported to Paddington and placed at the station’s war memorial on platform one by 11am on Remembrance Day.
This year, GWR and The Veterans Charity have partnered with the Royal Navy in its latest ‘Poppies to Paddington’ operation.
On Monday, November 6, the Royal Navy Air Station Culdrose deployed a Merlin helicopter, also tasked with delivering poppy wreaths from Plymouth ahead of Friday’s Remembrance service at Paddington.
Mayor Norris said: ‘I’m proud to be once again taking a wreath on behalf of all Bristol residents to London as part of the very moving Poppies to Paddington initiative as we remember the sacrifices made by West of England service men and women, and their families.
‘It’s 105 years since the end of the First World War and 78 years since the end of the Second World War. For children born today, these dates seem far, far away in history.
‘That’s why, many years on, it is more important than ever for us all to come together,
to pause and to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for this country, and to pass on the importance of Remembrance to the generations to come.’
Featured image: West of England Combined Authority, Metro Mayor travelling to London Paddington
Will you be attending any Remembrance Day event this weekend?