Hilary Brooker-Carey, one of our many thousands of volunteers recently went the extra mile, using her time and experience on one of our reserves to produce an eye-catching display...


Coquet Island, located less than a mile from the Northumberland coast and home to large populations of nesting seabirds, recently became a sea of poppies thanks to the hard work and dedication of one of our fantastic volunteers. 

Hilary Brooker-Carey has volunteered on the island for 27 years, part of the protection and monitoring team charged with keeping watch over the UK's largest roseate tern population, as well as a host of other seabirds, including puffins and black-headed gulls.

But recently she turned her hand to producing a display of over 1000 crocheted poppies as part of a moving tribute to those who sacrificed their lives in World War I. Inspired by the 2014 installation at Windsor Castle, as well as the touring 'Weeping Window' display, Hilary's handiwork even caught the eye of landowner, the Duke of Northumberland who featured it in his in-house newsletter 'Percy News'.

 As Hilary herself explains "The first image of the “Weeping Window” on the Tower of London had such a huge impact on me, the image lingers in my mind, not only in November but on days throughout the year. Last year, there was a realisation that those who fought in the War would all soon be no more and at that point, for me, I decided that to remember, for just two minutes in a year was not enough, I needed to reflect more.

With the “Weeping Window” in mind I thought that the best way for me to do this was to have a personal challenge, an undertaking that stretched me, and the idea of crocheting poppies every day throughout the year to make a poppy cascade seemed fitting. 

To me, Coquet Island Lighthouse seemed a fitting backdrop; it is steeped in history and also the island is a very special place for me. I have enjoyed links to the Island through the RSPB for over 25 years.

I started my project in November last year and have been able to crochet over 1000 poppies.  Each poppy is my reflection of my gratitude to and the pride in those I have never met and for those I will never meet… For those….I will remember."

Hilary's long-serving volunteer work has earned her the RSPB's highest volunteer accolade, the President's Award and I think we can all agree that her regular work on the island, as well as this touching tribute are worth high praise indeed!