Boris Johnson may be good at heading up City Hall, but he will not be recruited as a factory worker any time soon.

The Mayor of London visited the Poppy Factory in Richmond on Wednesday, October 8, along with MP Zac Goldsmith, to see how the iconic red flowers, wreaths and wooden crosses are made.

A total of 44m poppies are made each year, with 12m made by hand at the Petersham Road factory.

Veterans and ex-service men and women who work at the factory also produce 100,000 wreaths and 1m wooden crosses each year.

Taking time to speak to all workers individually, Mr Johnson asked what it is like to work at the Poppy Factory, was grilled on what he is doing to reduce taxes and took a shine to a worker’s guide dog.

Wandsworth Guardian:

Seeing employees putting together wreaths, Mr Johnson remarked: "I probably get mine for City Hall from here each year", to which he was told "Not probably, definitely, unless someone is selling counterfeit wreaths."

Mr Johnson also tried his hand at making a poppy, after being shown how by employees Stephen Ward and Peter Kowalenko.

Mr Johnson said: "I can understand why people love working here so much. It is very soothing."

Mr Ward and Mr Kowalenko were pleased Mr Johnson came to visit, but said he would be of no use on the production line because he worked too slowly.

The Mayor of London, who has not visited the factory before, said he was pleased to have been able to see the factory in action during the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War.

Mr Johnson said: "It is very moving because the British Armed Forces and Navy are still engaged in conflicts around the world.

"They still make a difference and it is important we support all that and we should remember the sacrifices of previous generations.

"People want to remember them [fallen soldiers] and that sacrifice and the poppies are a fantastic way of doing that."

Wandsworth Guardian:

The Mayor said more than 1m poppies were sold in London alone last year and he hoped the number would increase this year.

Melanie Walters, chief executive officer of the Poppy Factory, said: "Having Boris here has been wonderful. It is wonderful for our staff to see a key politician show an interest in what they do.

"Of course, having him make poppies here was good fun, but I don’t think we would employ him - he was rather slow."

Along with producing poppies, the Poppy Factory has also helped nearly 500 wounded, injured or sick ex-service men and women back into work through UK-wide initiative, Getting You Back to Work. The initiative works with commercial organisations such as Transport for London and the aim is to help more than 1,000 veterans by 2018.

Wandsworth Guardian:

The Poppy Factory holds a Trafalgar Day concert on Tuesday, October 21, at St Mary Magdalene Church, Richmond.

The Band of the Queens Division, London Early Opera and Corps of Army Music will perform at the concert, which will be a rousing tribute to the Armed Forces.

Tickets cost £18 and are available by calling 020 8939 1861 or at