19 October 2017   

3 min read
Arilla Village residents get creative & crafty to commemorate Remembrance Day

It all started eighteen months ago when the Arilla Village Craft Group decided to make paper poppies to commemorate Remembrance Day. Beautifully handcrafted, they carefully set them up outside only to see them destroyed during a Melbourne spring shower.

Sitting inside and lamenting their loss, Maureen turned to her friend Margaret and commented, “You know Marg, one day I’m going to look out those glass doors and see a sea of red.”

And that’s all it took.

For the next eighteen months, Margaret worked tirelessly secretly knitting 1,000 poppies to surprise Maureen with.

The plan was to present Maureen with the poppies at Remembrance Day, but Margaret had another surprise up her sleeve. After recently unveiling the sea of red poppies to her close friend, she also presented her with a beautiful poppy pendant, etched with a dove on the back.

“I would do anything for this lady, she is magic,” says Margaret.

It didn’t all come easily though. About nine months ago Margaret was involved in a car accident and had to go to hospital. Whilst there, she was struggling to get changed when she heard a familiar voice.  Maureen had arrived to help, just in the nick of time too. “How did you get past the nurses?” Margaret asked.  “I told them I was your sister,” Maureen said with grin.

It’s pretty evident that Margaret and Maureen are great friends. Our mid-morning chat resulted in lots of giggling and at times, mischievous laughter. You could easily mistake them for a couple of teenagers enjoying a laugh in between classes.

“I’m very lucky to have met Margaret,” states Maureen. “We have a great friendship. We can call on each other at any time but we’re not living in each other’s pockets either.”

Our conversation turns towards the other celebrations they work on together. Both, coming from defence force backgrounds are passionate about commemorating events like ANZAC and Remembrance Days. And they encourage their fellow residents to get involved too.

When Maureen moved in six years ago, she introduced the Gunfire Morning Tea to the village. The idea is based on the ‘gunfire breakfast’ that troops were given before their raids – that is, a shot of rum. So every ANZAC Day, Maureen honours this tradition by adding a shot of rum to residents’ coffees or teas.

“They all go home very happy,” says Margaret.

“It’s fun!” adds Maureen gleefully.

In addition to Margaret’s 1,000 poppies, the Arilla Craft Ladies have also knitted enough red poppies to cover a 6 square metre board to be used as a backdrop in front of Arilla’s flag poles for Anzac Day and Remembrance Day.

We’ll have to make another trip to Arilla Village to see all the glorious poppies on display!