Royal Navy helicopter swoops in as Great Western Railway and The Veterans Charity join forces for latest Poppies to Paddington operation

Great Western Railway will take its support for integrated travel to new heights in its latest Poppies to Paddington operation – thanks to support from a Royal Navy helicopter.

Partnering with The Veterans Charity, the Royal Navy Air Station Culdrose will deploy a Merlin helicopter to carry poppy wreaths from their base to Plymouth on Monday ahead of the GWR Remembrance service on Friday 10 November.

With planned engineering work preventing trains from running between Penzance and Plymouth, it means the fourth Poppies to Paddington operation will still serve Cornwall.

Further strengthening this year’s integrated travel approach, Go South West has also kindly provided a bus to collect wreaths from stations through the region and carry them to Plymouth.

This year GWR is remembering 70 years since the end of the Korean War as it once again carries swathes of poppy wreaths from across the network to London Paddington for the special Remembrance service.

Six ‘Poppy’ trains are expected to collect more than 200 wreaths from GWR stations ahead of the service at Paddington’s iconic war memorial on Platform 1.

GWR will especially remember the 81,000-Armed Forces personnel who took part in the Korean conflict, particularly those of the Gloucester Regiment and the Royal Fusiliers, who were involved in some of the heaviest fighting.

Amanda Burns, GWR Sales and Marketing Director, said:

“We’re incredibly grateful to RNAS Culdrose and Go South West for supporting our fourth Poppies to Paddington operation and ensuring poppy wreaths from Cornwall can be placed by the war memorial at Paddington.

“Poppies to Paddington was conceived in 2020 to ensure communities within the GWR network could honour our fallen heroes despite the restrictions in place around Covid-19, and this kind-hearted gesture by RNAS Culdrose and Go South West sums up the very spirit of the occasion.”

Danny Greeno, CEO of The Veterans Charity, said:

“We are very proud to have wonderful support from GWR for this Remembrance initiative which is now in its fourth year. Poppies To Paddington will once again be hugely poignant, paying respects to the fallen. Thanks to great support from the military and railway communities, wreaths are still able to complete their journey from across the South-West to Paddington to form the backdrop to the annual Remembrance service on Platform 1.

“Bringing communities, service personnel and Veterans together to remember in this special way is so important to ensure the sacrifices of the fallen are never forgotten. Our sincere thanks to everyone who is helping to make this happen, especially to GWR and RNAS Culdrose.”

  • Military personnel and veterans attending services of remembrance can travel to and from the events by train for free on Saturday 11 November and Sunday 12 November.

Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which represents train companies, said the offer was open to serving military personnel in uniform or who show a current Ministry of Defence-issued identity card. Veterans can show a Veterans Railcard, a Veterans Oyster card or other proof of service – such as a Ministry of Defence-issued Veterans ID card.

GWR is also allowing free travel for military personnel and veterans travelling to remembrance events on Friday 10 November.