Management and staff throughout Grange Hotels’ seventeen hotels have recently volunteered to plant poppies at the Tower of London, commemorating the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War.
The artistic installation ‘Blood Swept Land and Seas of Red’ made up of 888,246 ceramic red poppies, each intended to represent one British or Colonial serviceman killed in the war, was the masterpiece of artist, Paul Cummins. Started in August 2014 with the last poppy being planted on Remembrance Sunday, the installation was brought together by 21,000 volunteers with an additional 11,000 volunteers removing and packaging the poppies.
This was an ambitious project for the artist and the Tower of London. With Grange Hotels being embedded in the London community, it was fitting that they help represent London’s commemoration to the war. Fifty staff from across the group spent over 200 hours planting and/or removing the poppies, each having individual experiences and stories to share. It was both an honour and humbling experience to actively participate in this commemoration.
With a diverse cultural workforce, staff had different reasons to participate.
Helen’s tells us ‘It was so beautiful to stand amongst the poppies and see how very individual they all are. Surprisingly it was physically quite hard work planting poppies – but that seemed so right – to have to make an effort when so many had made such sacrifice for us. It was absolutely shocking to see just how many poppies there were – each representing one person who died as well as all their families who were affected by that.’
Sandra said ‘I loved every minute that I spent in the Tower planting the poppies. It gave me time to think of the soldiers who died in combat as well as their families. Remembering them this year felt particularly special and personal; being in the Tower planting the poppies was a small gesture but an exceptional moment for me. For every poppy I planted, my thoughts were with the soldiers and their families. The atmosphere and mood was very humbling. A great experience!
Caroline’s experience was ‘…all around the tower it was eerily quiet even though it was really busy and the general atmosphere was completely different to what it's usually like in such a busy part of London. You could tell that everyone was really thinking about the meaning behind the poppies and that the general sight of all of the poppies together was so breath-taking.’
James’s Story ‘I personally saw it as a huge privilege. As I was involved towards the end, the installation was almost complete and when you take a minute to reflect this sea of red is representative of the sheer numbers of lives lost, it was an incredibly powerful and sombre message. But it also lent itself to meet new people and form a camaraderie, something the world experienced on a much more serious note a hundred years ago.’
Dilip states 'To be part of such an ambitious project at the Tower of London was an opportunity which I could not miss out on as I wanted to show my respect for all the soldiers who passed away during WW1. The team I worked with were great, all aware that each poppy represented a life lost. It was a wonderful experience and also very rewarding at the same time. The atmosphere was something that could never been forgotten, individuals from all over the world were watching over us as we planted each poppy and cheered us on.'
Grange Hotels have purchased a single poppy for display in each hotel as a legacy to the fallen and a symbol of remembrance.
For further information on Grange Hotels or Grange Hotels CSR engagement, please contact:
Group General Manager
Tel: 020 7630 2000