Couple makes history at poppy-making factory

John and Debbie Parkinson
John and Debbie Parkinson

A Wigan man and his wife are making history as the first veterans couple working in a factory producing poppies.

John Parkinson, who grew up in Platt Bridge, has joined his wife at Lady Haig’s poppy factory in Edinburgh.

We are both really proud to be working here. To be the first married veterans couple is something special

John Parkinson

Debbie was the first female veteran employed at the factory, which opened in 1926, when she started work last year.

And since John joined as a poppy maker last month, they have become the first veterans couple.

John, 49, said: “We are both really proud to be working here. To be the first married veterans couple is something special.”

John left Platt Bridge when he joined the army at 18, but returns regularly to visit his family.

He spent 21 years with the army, but a knee injury suffered in Northern Ireland led to him retiring on medical grounds. He met his Scottish wife Debbie while in the army and lives in Kirkcaldy, in a veterans’ home rented from Poppyscotland.

The poppy factory employs 40 veterans, from the army, navy and RAF, the large majority of whom are registered disabled. They assemble five million poppies and 10,000 wreaths every year for Poppyscotland, which is part of the Royal British Legion group of charities.

John said: “I lived and breathed the army when I was in it and I miss it nearly every day since I have not been in it. To have the factory and for Poppyscotland to allow me to live in one of their homes and now work for them, it’s really quite nice.”

He urged people visiting Edinburgh to go on a free tour of the factory.

He said it was “like a living museum” with equipment dating back to 1929.

To find out more about the factory or arrange a tour, go to www.ladyhaigspoppyfactory.org.uk.