Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall has officially opened Hampshire County Council’s Poppy Pod village for the Armed Forces at Tile Barn Outdoor Centre today.
The Duchess unveiled a poppy shaped plaque and met military families who are currently using the 20 wooden camping pods. The pods are free for service personnel, veterans and their families to use during holidays and at weekends, in the heart of the New Forest near Brockenhurst.
The Poppy Pods renew Tile Barn’s historic role of offering respite for the Armed Forces where more than 21,000 troops from New Zealand and India were treated at the former hospital site from 1916 to 1919.
The Duchess was welcomed by Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Hampshire, Nigel Atkinson Esq, the Chairman of Hampshire County Council, Councillor Keith Chapman MBE, and the Leader of Hampshire County Council, Councillor Roy Perry.
Her Royal Highness also visited St Nicholas’ Church to visit the Commonwealth war graves of the soldiers who were treated at Tile Barn during the First World War. Her Royal Highness also saw a commemorative stained glass window inside the church which was recently installed, honouring those who were connected to New Zealand No.1 General Hospital, 100 years ago.
The solar-powered and accessible Poppy Pods have been funded by £250,000 from the Armed Forces Community Covenant Grant scheme and £50,000 from the Brockenhurst branch of the Royal British Legion. Each Poppy Pod is named after a battle from Amiens to Ypres, and pine seeds from Gallipoli have been planted nearby.
The creation of the Poppy Pods was inspired by the BBC programme ‘The Choir’ with Gareth Malone, which provided an insight into the fears and isolation of military wives as their husbands and partners served in Afghanistan.