Raising funds to help Scottish veterans is a year-round job, not solely that of the poppy campaign in November.
So Poppyscotland has recently enlisted an 18-tonne truck, known as Bud, to deliver its message.
It will take the Lady Haig Poppy Factory experience on the road to communities across Scotland.
And the charity hopes the new weapon in its arsenal will help fund even more life-changing work with the veterans it helps.
Bud has so far enjoyed two outings, a launch at St Denis’s Primary School in Glasgow and at Falkirk FC Stadium, prior to the Ross County match on May 4.
On both occasions, the truck proved a huge hit.
Now bookings are open for Bud to visit schools and groups across the country, in addition to major events such as the Royal Highland Show in June and festivals like Belladrum in Inverness and Grampian Pride.
When Bud has a spare minute or two, he’ll also be used to provide a mobile welfare centre, ensuring Poppyscotland reaches veterans in every community across Scotland.
For the charity’s fundraising chief Gordon Michie, seeing Bud on the road is the end of a five-year long project – and he’s delighted with the results.
He explained: “In 2014, the team started coming up with ideas for a legacy project to mark the centenary of the Armistice signing.
“One was a poppy story book, which we created and issued last year to every school in Scotland.
“But a more ambitious idea was a travelling exhibition, museum and learning experience.
“School visits to the poppy factory in Edinburgh are geographically restrained to those located within easy travelling distance.
“But we know the impact it has on children meeting the veterans who make Scotland’s five million poppies every year and listening to their stories, as well as getting the chance to make their own poppy.
“We wanted to take that experience on the road to school children and people across Scotland and so the idea for Bud was born.”
Funding largely came from two sources – £731,200 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and £730,000 from LIBOR funds.
Bud was also supported by the Celtic FC Foundation, Edinburgh Trust No2 Account, First Bus, Gordon Fraser Charitable Trust, Neat Vehicles, PF Charitable Trust, The Basil Death Trust, The Murdoch Forrest Charitable Trust and the Welsh Family Trust.
Then came a decision on which vehicle to use.
Gordon said: “Our initial idea was a bus but we later decided a truck would be more accessible and flexible.
“We spoke to Brakes, which delivers school meals – Bud is the same model as one of its 18 tonne trucks.
“The contract then went out to tender and we teamed up with Neat Vehicles.
“Their creative team turned Bud from a drawing into reality. Hydraulics are used so that he pops out and doubles in size, giving us ample space to tell our story.”
Exhibits include historical artefacts, interactive displays and the moving stories of veterans and their families.
Visitors also have the opportunity to make their own poppy using the same methods as the 34-stong team of veterans who work at the Poppy Factory.
Guests are then invited to visit the Bud website to share their story of reflection and hope, which will create their own poppy “avatar” – a visual representation of what the poppy and remembrance means to them.
“It’s an extension to our learning programme and online resources, which are downloaded free of charge by hundreds of teachers every year,” explained Gordon.
“Bud is very hands on though – there are even hands guiding people to create their own poppies.
“Four framed portraits also come to life to tell the poppy story – Lady Haig, a modern day volunteer collector, one of our current poppy factory workers and one from the early 1920s.
“Children and adults alike love it – it really helps to capture imaginations.
“Four veterans, depicted as cartoon characters, also tell their stories and explain how Poppyscotland has helped them.
“And the kids love using the clocking in machine – just like our workers use at the factory.
“They’ll soon be able to buy Bud merchandise so they can take a small part of the experience with them too.”
Seeing Bud come to life has been an incredible journey for Poppyscotland.
Gordon added: “I was blown away with it the first time I saw it six weeks ago, even before its final fit out.
“In our near 100-year history, it’s a unique project we can all be very proud of.
“The public feedback has already been very positive, both from pupils at St Denis’s in Glasgow and with young football fans in Falkirk.
“We also had a lady on crutches who was delighted to discover the lift on the back of the truck – Bud is fully accessible to all.
“Now, we just want to get out on the road.
“We hope spotting Bud will become an eye-spy game with people sharing it on social media at #poppybud.”
Bud bookings now open but please be mindful of logistics!
Donations raised from Bud’s tours across Scotland will fund Poppyscotland’s work, helping veterans year-round.
The charity raised more than £3 million from the poppy appeal last year, allowing it to deliver support to members of the Armed Forces community.
While there will be no charge for Bud’s visits, there is an interactive donation box on the way out to raise funds.
Louise Mackie, headteacher of St Denis’s Primary School, believes it will be a big hit.
She said: “Being the first school to visit was a real honour and I’m sure thousands of other students and members of the public will find their Bud experience as moving and thought-provoking as we did.”
Bookings will operate on a rolling three-month calendar with the charity aiming to book visits in neighbouring areas.
Gordon explained: “If we’re going up to Aberdeenshire, we won’t be able to visit Peebles the following day.
“Ideally we’d like to spend several days in the north-east, before then travelling down to the Borders or central belt.
“Logistically, that will make it a lot easier for us but we’ll see how it works in practice!”
To book Bud or access the supporting learning resources for teachers, visit the website poppybud.org.uk.