DRAMATIC, emotive and respectful.

Those were the words used by creative director Ray Stenning to summarise the striking red poppies against the backdrop of a green field and which emblazon the side of this unique bus.

The bus’s exterior artwork has been designed to commemorate Armistice Day, marked today, and Remembrance Sunday this weekend.

The annual event offers us all the chance to reflect of the sacrifices made by those who have served in the British Armed forces.

This year’s tributes are especially poignant because it is the 100th anniversary of the Royal British Legion, the charity which supports those who serve or have served in the forces.

Last year’s Remembrance services were hugely pared down due to the coronovirus pandemic, which banned large public gatherings, as the Government tried to curtail the spread of the virus.

The bus, operated by First Essex, goes into public service tomorrow.

First Essex commissioned Mr Stenning and his specialist transport design team at Best Impressions, in London, to come up with the image.

Mr Stenning said: “They wanted something different.

“The idea behind this was to adapt the liveries to create a field of poppies and was quite a dramatic approach and would appeal, but it is quite emotive because the field of poppies represents the fallen.

“We just felt it was a much more dramatic way of doing it.

“Also, the poppies growing - a lot of remembrance is to do with those who were killed in wars, but also the regeneration for the future.

“We are chuffed [with the design], it has come out really well and keeps the message quite simple as well. It is respectful but exciting in a nice way. It makes you look at it and think,” Mr Stenning added.

First Essex said the bus will continue in service for years to come.

Today the specially-designed bus will be offering trips back into the past, when VIP guests from the Royal British Legion and representatives from the Armed Forces will enjoy a special tour onboard

It will travel between historic Colchester landmarks in the company of re-enactment actor, Jim Williams, who will share experiences of the Great War.

He will be dressed in authentic uniform and serve as a real-life representation of the many thousands of servicemen who have lost their lives during conflict.

There will also be the chance for First Essex customers to see and hear these First World War memories as the commemorative bus goes into public service from about 11.36am today.

Operating on bus route 64a, which passes the Colchester Garrison, the special First Essex service will offer free travel until 1pm and the re-enactment actor will be on board.

Sheena Karim, marketing manager at First Essex Bus, said: “This is such an important time for many people to remember family, friends and others who have been lost in military service. The Remembrance bus has been designed to recognise these links and pay tribute.”