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Photo 1: (L-R) Mary-Lou Knights, Bianca Youngman, Ruth, and Cheryl and Terry Barnes of O’Malley Close in Grafton proudly display a collection of red and purple poppies handmade by Ruth as an Anzac Day tribute. Image: Emma Pritchard

Blooming spectacular Anzac Day tribute

Emma Pritchard

Residents of O’Malley Close in Grafton commemorated Anzac Day in a truly special way this year with more than 50 properties proudly displaying an assortment of red and purple poppies lovingly handmade by 80-year-old local Ruth around their letterboxes and front gardens on April 25.

Inspired by a Remembrance Day tribute she saw at Grafton Base Hospital (GBH) last year, Ruth spent the next five months diligently creating and decorating the beautiful lifelike blossoms using recycled plastic bottles generously donated by Clarence Valley residents which were then shared with her neighbours through a network of friends affectionately called poppy droppers.

Extremely humble while speaking of her extraordinary contribution, Ruth refers to her creations as “a fun project” with the red poppies honouring the fallen while the purple poppies commemorate the many animals that also served in times of conflict.

“Anzac Day is very dear to the hearts of so many people, and I thought this was a good way to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for us,” she explained.

“It’s very meaningful to me.

“My father served in World War I (WWI) and one of my uncles was killed in World War II (WWII) during the Fall of Singapore while another uncle was highly decorated for his services.

“Hopefully, children will remember these poppies and they will want to learn more about Anzac Day and what it means to so many Australians.”

Bianca Youngman, who has lived in O’Malley Close for several years, helped distribute the red and purple poppies with her daughter Harper, and said it was an incredible gesture by Ruth.

“We have an O’Malley Close group chat on Facebook, and we asked people if they would like some red poppies and/or purple poppies to have to display in their yards,” she said.

“There wasn’t one person who didn’t want to display any poppies.

“There was no obligation for residents to participate, but everyone said it was a great idea and they wanted to be involved.”

After making upwards of 300 red and purple poppies, Ruth said O’Malley Close residents have been invited to keep them and display them again on November 11 for Remembrance Day, as well as Anzac Day in 2025.

Along with her loyal group of poppy droppers, Ruth also wished to acknowledge Ms Youngman’s partner Tim Hartog for his assistance in helping to spray paint and glue wire stems on all of the poppies to enable them to be erected throughout O’Malley Close.