The day before Anzac Day a group of passionate purple poppy knitters stitch up a purple storm.

As opposed to its red counterpart, the purple poppy remembers the animals that didn't return from World War I.

And every year just outside of Bulls in the Rangitikei, a service is held for a war horse called Bess who was only one of four animals to return.

Helen Cooper has lived in Bulls for over 30 years and is the force behind each stitch. She and her loyal knitting team have made over 1500 purple poppies this year.


"[Bess] is well known worldwide and I believe there's people coming from as far as Taupō and Wairarapa," Cooper said.

Cooper even gets random members of the community dropping in with poppies of their own.

"People hear about it and the next thing we know they have them on the counter here and say here you go. The only thing is the wool runs out."

Helen and the team traditionally knitted red poppies but the colour change this year just seemed right.

"A lot of us attend the usual morning ceremony and then we go down to the Bess ceremony service, and that's something special following those horses up to the memorial. It gives you a great feeling. It's wonderful."

Bess' memorial service starts in Bulls at 9am where people can buy their own purple poppies at the Bulls Museum, with all proceeds going back into the community.

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