Poppy Joe


Joseph Marshall was out on Sunday for the Service of Remembrance at St Kiarans, along with Stewart Young, our tanker driver, who was representing the Islay Coastguard. Though it was a year like no other – no singing in the church, and strict limits on numbers attending – they laid their wreaths at the Memorial Plaque and held the 2 minute silence to think of the fallen. The lay preacher who took the service, Maggie Alexander of Nerabus, is herself a retired Army Nursing Officer.

Joe has been Quality Assistant at Bruichladdich Distillery for a little over 2 years. In a previous, pre-Islay life, he was in the Royal Navy, where as well as working closely with servicemen and women, he amassed knowledge of procedure and process writing and gained serious experience of Health and Safety matters. He did a tour of Iraq. After moving to Islay, he apparently spent “a couple of years relaxing” before bringing his skills into our team.

We support Joe’s raising donations in his role as local Poppy Scotland representative; if you would like to enter a raffle for pair of special commemorative bottles, please make a pledge to this Just Giving Poppy Appeal 2020 page. Send an email after you have donated any amount to newsroom@bruichladdich.com marked FAO Poppy Joe? We’ll pull a name out of a hat at the end of next week and be in touch to get your address.

Meanwhile, here’s what Joe told us about his military career, his life in Islay as a service veteran, and the work of Poppy Scotland.

Joe Marshall Quality Control

Joe Marshall [JM]: As a family we had been coming to Islay for about 4 years on holiday. We loved the peace and quiet, and there was safety yet adventure for our two girls. Since moving over in 2015, we have all definitely slowed down and enjoyed the slower pace of life. Everyone has been very welcoming and friendly. The variety of the job at Bruichladdich keeps me on my toes – from sending samples for analysis to preparing for external audits – every day’s a school day. I am very much enjoying learning the intrigues of a busy distillery.

I originally joined the Royal Navy as a Medical Assistant in the early 1990s. I undertook my training at Royal Naval Hospital Haslar in Gosport, Hants. My experiences during this time include assisting in preparing the hospital for receiving casualties during the first Gulf War and working a lot with the Royal Marines spending time on exercise in Norway and Egypt. Plus training for duties in Kosovo. In 2000, I transferred to the Dental Branch. From being a dental nurse, I progressed up the ranks, and ran the dental surgeries for HMS Neptune in Faslane, and HMS Drake in Plymouth. I deployed to Basra, Iraq in 2008 on Op Telic. After that, I ran the Dental Centre at St Thomas’ Hospital, London, where we looked after all the personnel working in MOD Main building, Whitehall. Then in 2010 I returned to Faslane, was promoted to Chief Petty Officer and ended up managing all military dental centres in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

“Strengthening the island community in whatever practical and pastoral ways people can is something we at Bruichladdich believe in and will always support” Douglas Taylor, CEO.

JM [cont]: As a Service Veteran I understand and appreciate the work that Poppy Scotland does for this community. It includes men and women from the Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force, both regular and reserve, both veterans and those currently serving. It also covers members of the Merchant Navy who have served in a commercial vessel in support of UK military operations. And finally, it is important to note, it includes their families as well.

I know about their support from personal experience. Our daughter Megan is registered Visually Impaired – Ocular Albinism with Nystagmus – which means she can’t judge depth or speed, so she can’t ride a regular bike. Poppy Scotland gave us a grant to purchase a tricycle for her when she was 6. It gave her the freedom to join her friends. It improved her well-being and ensured she wasn’t socially isolated from her peer group at a very young age.

Simple things like this have huge impacts. This is why I am giving back to Poppy Scotland in volunteering my time so they can continue to help future families and individuals in their time of need.

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Bruichladdich CEO, Douglas Taylor, adds, “We’re proud of the fact that our team support so many charitable and community projects outside of work. The community has played such a big role in the Bruichladdich story and to know the team continue to give back reinforces our principle belief that community matters.

“Whether coastguard, volunteer fire service, bumps and babies, local youth football or other – strengthening the island community in whatever practical and pastoral ways they can is something we at Bruichladdich believe in and will always support.”

Joe, and all the Islay veterans and volunteers, we salute you!

Poppy Scotland support over 500,000 members of the Armed Forces Community in Scotland. When you think that Scotland’s entire population is just under 5.5 million, you realise that this number is pretty significant. It was founded in 1921 to support veterans facing post-conflict trauma, unemployment, financial ruin and even homelessness, after WW1.

The Scottish Poppy has four-lobed petals and no leaf, in contrast to the poppy used in the rest of the UK which has two and sometimes sports a green leaf. Botanically it would be incorrect to add a leaf and incidentally, it would cost about £15,000 to add the leaf – the charity believes that sum of money is better spent on veterans.

It’s been a challenging year for their usual collecting opportunities. Please give what you can online to the Poppy Scotland Poppy Appeal 2020. And drop us an email afterwards for the chance to win a pair of special single cask bottles signed by Joe. Thank you!

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