MBE for Warsop-based Royal British Legion legend who was the driving force behind the 'Big Poppy Knit'

A retired Warsop police officer who was the driving force behind a mass poppy-knitting campaign which raised £140,000 for the Royal British Legion has been honoured in the Queen's Birthday Honours.

By Andy Done-Johnson
Friday, 11th June 2021, 10:30 pm

Elaine Hopkins first joined the town’s RBL 20 years ago, along with her husband, amid fears it may close due to a lack of volunteers.

Since then, the 65-year-old has acted as treasurer for the Warsop branch, served as a Nottinghamshire community fundraiser and as a member of the RBL’s Nottinghamshire County Committee.

But in 2014, she joined forces with BBC Radio Nottingham to launch the first ‘Big Poppy Knit’ as part of commemorations to mark the 100th anniversary since the outbreak of the First World War.

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Announcing her MBE award, a spokesman for the Cabinet Office said: “Locally known as the ‘Big Poppy Knit’ the target of 11,000 knitted poppies marking each of the 11,000 fallen men from the County during the Great War was easily achieved, as over 70,000 poppies were knitted by the local community.

“The sale of these knitted poppies generated over £140,000, which helped to increase the year’s Poppy Appeal for Nottinghamshire by 30 per cent.

“At local branch level, she was instrumental in re-energising the Warsop branch, organising many events such as out-of-town day trips, breakfast clubs, teas parties, and helped run stalls at local village fetes, edited a monthly branch newsletter, organised remembrance parades and established a monthly drop-In centre in Warsop Town Hall.

“She has dedicated over 20 years to the welfare of the ex-service community and is an inspirational icon for the RBL in Nottinghamshire.”

A second ‘Big Poppy Knit’ was launched in 2018 to mark the end of hostilities and Mansfield District Council also launched its own ‘People’s Poppies’ campaign with other RBL branches around the district and supported by Chad.

More than 15,000 poppies were knitted as part of the separate drive, which were used as displays and installations to mark the route of Mansfield’s main Remembrance Sunday march and service.

The mother-of-one, and doting grandmother, is also the Immediate past-president of the Inner Wheel Club of Warsop, a volunteer for Age UK Nottinghamshire and a former community fundraiser for the Nottinghamshire Hospice.

Speaking about the MBE, she said: “I have been volunteering since I was 18, and I was 65 last week. I do what I do because I love what I do, and not for any sort of reward and when I heard I was shocked but overjoyed as well.

“I live in Warsop, and about 20 years ago the branch said it was going to close because they couldn’t get people to take on officer roles, so me and my husband decided to get involved, and the rest is history.

“There’s a backlog with the process because of Covid and the ceremonies for the New Year and last year’s Birthday Honours still haven’t taken place, so it might take some time for me to be presented with the medal.

“It might be that the Lord Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire will present it on the Queen’s behalf. I’d love to go to the Palace, but I don’t know whether I will yet.”

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