Poppies at Forth Valley Royal

Flanders fields of poppies will bloom and blow at Forth Valley Royal Hospital this year to mark 100 years since the start of the First World War and as a mark of remembrance of the sacrifice in conflicts that the Armed Services and their families continue to make.

The scheme which is part of NHS Forth Valley’s work to build good relationships between the Armed Services community and the civilian community will see a

4,600 square metre poppy and wildflower meadow planted in the grounds of Forth Valley Royal Hospital.

The meadow will be a beautiful addition to the greenspace on the drive up to the hospital and will flower from May to September.  In addition to the distinctive red poppies with their black centres it will include a number of native Scottish wildflower species and will be planted during April.

In the last 100 years around 97% of wild flower meadows have disappeared across the UK and by planting native flowers we can help reduce this loss.  It  will also provide a wonderful habitat for bees and other pollinating insects and is more ecologically sound to maintain than grass, as it will only need strimmed once a year in the autumn.

Within NHS Forth Valley there are a number of staff who are also members of the Reserve Forces, the majority of whom are Army Reservists. They have been deployed on operations all over the world including Iraq and Afghanistan, supporting clinical services in frontline hospitals and providing medical care to injured personnel.

Tom Steele, NHS Forth Valley’s Director of Strategic Projects & Facilities said: “This meadow will help create a welcoming environment and will be a fantastic new feature for the community, staff and patients to enjoy, whilst showing our appreciation and support to the men and women of our Regular and Reserve Forces.”

 “It is also linked very much with the aspiration of NHS Forth Valley to improve health and wellbeing and safeguards the management of the site in perpetuity.”

Lieutenant Colonel Paul Holder, Headquarters 51st Infantry Brigade and Headquarters Scotland and local Firm Base Commander said: “NHS Forth Valley is already held in very high esteem by the Armed Forces Community.  They look after us as patients; Regulars, Reserves, Veterans and our families, and fill the ranks of our Field Hospitals and other units, through voluntary service with the Reserve Forces.  This latest initiative, the Poppy Fields, is a visual reminder of the bonds of comradeship, duty and service which link NHS Forth Valley to the Armed Forces Community.”

Kevin Gray MM, Chief Executive Officer, Royal British Legion Scotland said: “The Royal British Legion Scotland fully support the initiative by NHS Forth Valley and look forward to providing assistance where required in the Poppy Fields.  In this centenary year of the First World War there is a place for providing a stark and very visual image that will undoubtedly have an impact on all ages in the local community; there can be nothing more relevant this year and in the next four years than a field of Poppies; and to have this located at Larbert hospital provides the opportunity for the community to join together in a centralised space in remembrance and respect of not only those that gave the ultimate sacrifice in defence of the Nation but also remembers the sacrifices of the families of those killed and maimed in the aftermath of such an horrendous War.”

Col Roderick Neilson, Commanding Officer of 205 (Scottish) Field Hospital and a Consultant Haematologist at Forth Valley Royal Hospital welcomed the initiative and said: “In the year of the hundredth anniversary of the start of WW1 this project by NHS Forth Valley will be a focus of remembrance of all those that have served in numerous conflicts over the past century from the Forth Valley area, including those who have lost their lives, as well as being an enduring legacy that improves the visual landscape around the hospital.”