LYMINGTON sculptor Michael Turner is launching his annual treasure hunt on Remembrance Sunday to give away 11 specially-made poppies to raise money for the Royal British Legion.
In what has become a local tradition, the internationally renowned stainless steel sculptor has spent days creating the collection of hand crafted flowers which he will hide in secret locations across Lymington and the wider New Forest area on Sunday.
Now in its fifth year, the idea behind the Great New Forest Poppy Hunt is to support the RBL by asking anyone who takes part and finds a poppy to give a donation to the services charity.
This year Michael has also created one purple poppy to honour all the service animals which have been killed during conflicts.
He said: “We are an animal-loving nation but the contributions of our four-legged friends are sometimes overlooked so I thought it was nice to do something to remember the animals that lost their lives in the wars.
“I always try to do something a little different so this year I decided to add a purple poppy to the collection.”
He has decided to mount the poppy heads on a wooden plinth instead of making them with stems because as the hunt has grown every year he has found it more difficult to hide them without being spotted.
Michael explained: “Last year I had people following me in cars towards the end of the day so I had to get a bit sneaky. By mounting them on wood they are much more easily transportable because I can hide them in a backpack.”
He will hide his 11 poppies across the area on Sunday and then post photographic clues on his Instagram account and Facebook page leading participants to their location.
With more than 1,800 Instagram followers and 4,200 fans on Facebook, Michael anticipates that hundreds of people will be taking part.
He said: “I never know exactly how many people are taking part or how much is raised for the Royal British Legion – and that’s part of the fun of it, but I know from the messages I receive that there are a lot of people who play along every year.”
With help from his children Thomas and Eleanor and wife Jenny, Michael plans to start hiding the poppies at around 7am and then continue hiding around one an hour throughout the day until around 4pm.
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.
“I like to spread the poppies out a bit and hide some in slightly further out locations to give people a bit of a challenge.”
Michael then hopes that anyone lucky enough to find one of the special flowers will make a donation to the RBL.
It follows similar poppy-inspired treasure hunts which Michael has organised since 2015 as a tribute to his two 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.