Sir Trevor Brooking was among a number of West Ham stars past, present and future who marked Remembrance Sunday by visiting the Poppy Factory in Richmond, where wreaths are made to commemorate the country’s fallen heroes.
Legend Brooking was joined by first-team player Ben Johnson and academy star Ollie Scarles as they helped make three wreaths that will be laid at the London Stadium.
It was the first time a football club had visited the famous factory, which has been visited four times in recent decades by several other famous faces, including Her Majesty, the late Queen Elizabeth II.
The three West Ham representatives spoke to Armed Forces veteran and Hammers fan Alex Conway and heard his moving story, which included struggling with PTSD: ‘It sounds dramatic, but the fact that I came to the Poppy Factory , probably saved my life.”
The Poppy factory worker added: ‘It was good to meet one of my boyhood heroes. All the ups and downs and I’m still blowing bubbles.’
Ben Johnson (left) and Ollie Scarles (centre) were among the current and future West Ham stars who took part in making the wreaths
West Ham legend Sir Trevor Brooking was among those to learn about the craftsmanship of the Remembrance Sunday wreaths
The players met lifelong Hammers fan and veteran Alex Conway who claimed the Poppy Factory ‘saved his life’
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Describing the experience as a ‘privilege’, Brooking said: ‘There is always something very special about our fans paying tribute to the young men of the West Ham Pals Battalion, and all the other men and women who have served in our armed forces. .
“I will be very proud to see the wreaths we helped make unveiled at the Pals Monument, and I am very proud to be part of this great tradition in our country that says to all who fought for our freedom that – no matter how much time passes – we will ensure that their service and their sacrifice will never be forgotten.”
Johnson added: ‘When they told us we had to make poppies with one hand I thought it was just to give us an extra challenge, but when they explained the history and how the First World War veterans had to learn making them that way really brings out the sacrifice they made, and why these moments of memory matter so much.
“That’s what I’ll always think about now when I wear the poppy or see these wreaths at the London Stadium, not just the care that goes into making them, but the whole tradition that it represents.”
Scarles added: “I’ll be 18 in December. I think it’s important for me to realize that during the war people my age would be going off to fight with the West Ham Battalion or be called up to play my part in the war. WWII.’
Located in Richmond, the factory has hosted a number of famous visitors, including the late Queen Elizabeth II
The intricacies of making the wreaths quickly became apparent to the Hamers of the past, present and future who watched
The three wreaths made at the factory will be laid on Remembrance Sunday ahead of West Ham’s home match against Nottingham Forest