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Sculptor's annual poppy hunt fundraiser brought forward thanks to lockdown

Michael Turner has made 22 poppies for 2020's Royal British Legion fundraiser
Michael Turner has made 22 poppies for 2020's Royal British Legion fundraiser

A LYMINGTON sculptor’s popular annual poppy hunt, in support of the Royal British Legion, has been brought forward to tomorrow (Wednesday) following the national lockdown announcement

Every year Michael Turner creates 11 stainless steel handmade poppies which he then hides at secret locations across the Forest before posting clues on his Instagram and Facebook pages.

But this year he has doubled his efforts, crafting 22 flowers – with the intention of hiding 11 on Wednesday and auctioning a further 11 to raise extra cash for the RBL.

Michael said: “Luckily this year I was a bit ahead of myself with making the poppies, so when they announced the lockdown I realised we would probably have to bring the hunt forward so people could still take part within the rules.

“The format will be the same as previous years – I will begin hiding the poppies at around 7am and continue throughout the day – posting picture clues as I go. I just ask that everyone who finds a poppy gives a donation of whatever they can afford to the Royal British Legion.”

Now in its sixth year, Michael has crafted this year’s poppies on a recycled wood plinth and included one purple poppy to honour all the service animals killed during conflicts.

Michael will also run a week-long online auction for a further 11 poppies, with all proceeds donated to the Royal British Legion. He said: “I have seen a few things on television about the Poppy Appeal being hit hard this year because street collections have not been possible, so I decided to made an extra 11 poppies to raise as much as possible.

“I will cover the costs of postage anywhere in the world so it means my followers on Facebook and Instagram who are not local also have a chance of getting one if they bid in the auction.”

With more than 3,650 Instagram followers and nearly 4,500 fans on Facebook, Michael anticipates many locals taking part on Wednesday.

He said: “The weather is meant to be sunny – and I will try to hide a few so that people who are working will also have a chance to join in whether it’s first thing in the morning or later in the afternoon. I always prefer to do the poppy hunt on a weekend but sadly this year it won’t be possible.”

In previous years Michael has also involved his children, Thomas and Eleanor, and wife Jenny, in hiding the poppies across the area.

He said: “It can be quite difficult to think of new hiding places because I have been doing it for a few years now and I really want to make sure that everyone has a fair chance.

“A few people have been asking for clues about where I might be hiding them – but that’s not playing the game. I want everyone to have a chance.”

It follows similar poppy-inspired treasure hunts which Michael has organised since 2015 as a tribute to his grandfathers who both fought in the Second World War.

Michael said: “The idea is two-fold, really. I’m hoping to raise some money for the RBL but also inspire younger people and children to get involved in the treasure hunt so hopefully they can learn a bit more about the importance of the poppy day in a fun way.”

Michael specialises in creating life-sized stainless steel sculptures which often depict animals such as big cats, alligators, sea creatures and birds of prey. Famous clients include celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay who has a full-sized gorilla sculpture in his flagship London restaurant.

To join the Great New Forest Poppy Hunt or to find out more about Michael’s work follow him on Instagram @michaelturnerstudios or visit his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Michaelturnerstudios

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