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Design Focus



The 886,246 ceramic poppies (one for every British and Commonwealth soldier killed in the Great War) that filled the moat at the Tower of London last autumn held an incredibly powerful symbolism to mark the 100th anniversary of the start of World War 1. With the WW1 centenary commemorations continuing and 2015 marking the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, PG salutes a number of greeting card publishers who are paying their respects to those in the armed forces through publishing related charity cards.


here is a fine line between glorifying something as horrific as war can be and acknowledging those individuals who have bravely taken part, in the belief that it will

make the world a better place. This month marks the launch of a new range which is a collaboration between Abacus Cards and the Royal Chelsea Hospital (RCH), the latter being home to 300 war veterans who are best known under their moniker of the Chelsea Pensioners and for their iconic red jackets. The seed of the idea for the card range (quite literally) came from Abacus’ sister

company, Mr Fothergill’s Seeds, which launched a special packet of Victoria Cross poppy seeds last year, making a donation of 25p from each pack sold. Abacus’ sales manager Nick Carey was keen to extend the relationship into the card side of the business after seeing how grateful the charity was for the support Mr Fothergill’s were giving them and how warmly the project had been received by the company’s customers. “There is enormous affection and respect for the Chelsea Pensioners, they are British icons,” commented Bev Cunningham, creative director of Abacus. “Personal communication during times of war is extremely important for those at the front as well as those left behind; a way to keep in touch, a way to boost morale, and a way to let someone know you are thinking of them. Then, as now, cards are a big part of the army’s life and our lives. This seemed a perfect extension to our partnership with Royal Chelsea Hospital.” When selecting the images for the inaugural range of 14 card designs (20p from the

sale of each card will be donated to Royal Chelsea Hospital), Bev reveals she “felt strongly that the images needed to have a connection with either the pensioners or the army; but we were conscious that the images couldn’t portray the horror of war and we didn’t want them to be a celebration of war either, more a commemoration and tribute to those who have fought for our country.“ The initial card selection includes a mix of both photographic and illustrative artwork, and the subject matter ranges from depictions of these famous red- coated pensioners to scenic poppy fields through to historic black and white photography and enlist poster artwork. “Many of the images came from historical image libraries and I found it quite upsetting at times when trawling through thousands of images of both the First and Second World Wars; it was a very sobering experience,” said Bev.

Top: One of the 14 designs in the new Abacus Royal Chelsea Hospital range. A donation of 20p for each card sold will be made to the charity. Above: The new Abacus range includes some images from various historic archives.

A VETERAN’S VIEW Chelsea Pensioner, Gerry Farmer, was among those who went to the Somme last year for the First World War centenary commemorations - and he took with him some very personally important greeting cards. “My grandfather, Thomas Ward, served with the 17th London (the Poplar and Stepney Rifles) during the First World War. He served with his brother Bill, and they would both send cards from the Front to my mother Lily. The cards were embroidered and sold by the local girls there, and on them it said ‘Forget Me Not’, or ‘Flowers from France’. My mother, who was aged nine when she received them, said the cards were never pristine. They always had a bit of dirt on them, which was probably the mud from the trenches. My Granddad

was imprisoned after the High

Left: Chelsea pensioner Gerry Farmer with some of the embroidered cards that his grandfather and great uncle had sent home from the front line during the First World War to Gerry’s mother (then only a little girl).


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