Poppies find a new home at St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital


St Andrews Remembrance Day

St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital (SAWMH) is recognising Remembrance Day with the installation of a handcrafted poppy 6m x 1m ‘blanket’ with around 3 500 poppies which have seen service at the Shrine of Remembrance, met HRH Queen Elizabeth at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show and displayed outside Parliament House in Canberra.

The poppies originated from the 2013 ‘5000 Poppies’ project which actually received close to one million poppies – and between 2015 and 2019, the poppies were distributed to Melbourne’s Federation Square and Shrine of Remembrance, the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in London, Cobbers Memorial in Fromelles, France and the Australian War Memorial and Parliament House, Canberra, for the Centenary of ANZAC and the Armistice 11 November 1918.

After the poppies had been displayed, expressions of interest were sought from those who could use the poppies for commemorative purposes. It was essential that they would be loved, honoured and respected.

Commemorating ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day is significant at SAWMH as it was built as a living memorial to the men and women of the Australian Armed Forces of World Wars I and II. The ideals of service are honoured and continued in the care given to all patients.

Cardiac catheter theatre radiographer Jessica Hazlewood was one of the original contributors to the 5000 poppies project.

“My husband was in the army for 20 years and I wanted to make poppies for the Armistice Centenary display at the Australian War Memorial in 2018 in memory of two of our relatives who served in the Great War, one of whom died and one who returned,” Jessica said.

“I’ve since discovered that both my great grandfathers on my mother’s side also served in the Great War too and survived, also we’re fairly certain that (husband) Rob’s grandfather served and some of his mother’s uncles.

“When I heard they were redistributing the poppies after the installations were complete I knew I had to bring some to our War Memorial hospital in Brisbane. I worked with Chaplain Helen Hill to investigate if we could rehome some of the poppies at St Andrew’s.

“I knew St Andrew’s would respect the heritage and significance of the poppies and also display them so everyone could appreciate them,” she said.

As Queensland’s only war memorial hospital and in its 62nd year of serving the local community, St Andrew’s commemorates the sacrifice of those who have served and fought as part of the Australian Defence Forces. It’s a cause close to former army nurse and SAWMH volunteer Cluny Seager’s heart.

“I was an army nurse in the 1970s when the Vietnam War was well underway and conscription part of our community,” Cluny said.

“I’ve read a lot about military nurses, specifically in WWI and WWII, there was no stronger tie than that between a nurse and her patient. Their bond was tight.

“The devout dedication of nurses in conflict should be remembered and this poppy blanket is a monument to that devotion,” she said.

St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital General Manager Mairi McNeill said the hospital was proud of its connection with Australian servicemen and women and ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day are a significant event on the calendar.

"Since St Andrew’s opened its doors 62 years ago, we pause each year to remember the sacrifice of many so that we may live in freedom."

"It’s through the compassion and dedication of our whole team who care for patients and their families in their time of need that the hospital continues to honour our historic war origins."

Created as a memorial to the service of war veterans, we’re proud of our history. St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital is proudly part of UnitingCare, which operates one of the largest not-for-profit private hospital groups in Queensland.

Photo left to right: Jessica Hazlewood and Cluny Seager