Plea for youngsters to help poppy appeal

DON'T leave it to the veterans and cadets!That is the call today by the secretary of the Ipswich branch of the Royal British Legion and poppy organiser Peter Thompson.

DON'T leave it to the veterans and cadets!

That is the call today by the secretary of the Ipswich branch of the Royal British Legion and poppy organiser Peter Thompson.

The 70-year-old is one of the youngest of the old school involved in the annual fundraising campaign and he said he would love to get some new recruits out collecting.

Poppy sales for Remembrance Day 2003 is launched on Saturday at a promotional rally at the Ipswich Cenotaph in Christchurch Park, Mr Thompson said there is plenty of scope for more collectors to join in.

"Us older ones don't give up because we don't want to do it any longer, we give up through age and disability.

"People have to be replaced if we are to keep these things going. Raising money through poppy collections is important to keep the British Legion-run homes up to modern standards, these are vital to the care of servicemen who need them.

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"All the money raised by the Ipswich branch goes directly to the fund. Some charitable organisations have overheads to pay for but we are one hundred per cent voluntary with no expenses," Mr Thompson said.

This year's Gulf War and the continuing hostilities where British servicemen are at risk is enough, he said, to remind everyone of the need for the Royal British Legion and the Poppy Appeal.

"But it is not just about wars," he said, "it is about defence. Whenever there is a firefighters' strike for example, the services are told to take over.

"Then there is the Territorial Army too. They have been sent out to the Gulf now, who knows what dangers they are to face," he added.

Young cadets are already stalwarts of the Poppy Appeal and do their bit at collecting.

They will be the automatic replacements for the veterans who will one day have to hand over the collection tins and trays of poppies.

People like George Stollery, DSM, who at 83-years-old has been a member of the Royal British Legion and a poppy seller since 1964 when he came out of the navy.

"I will be back in the Buttermarket shopping centre again this year collecting and again for as many years as I can," said Mr Stollery.

After leaving the Royal Navy, Mr Stollery became a nurse with the NHS and with his wife, Yvonne, also a former nurse, they are founders of the 18-year-old Somersham Ward Cancer Support Group.

They also make regular visits back to their old primary school on Nacton Road, Ipswich, now Murrayfield.

"The children are interested in my work with the British Legion and the poppy appeal and it is wonderful to be able to answer their questions about these and how I got my medals," Mr Stollery added.

Albert Pond, 81, was with the 7th Armoured Division in the Western Desert. He is also a veteran poppy seller, for the last five years in Somerfields at Saxmundham.

President of the Ipswich branch of the RBL and former poppy organiser Reg Driver was also at the Cenotaph.

He said the shortage of poppy sellers is reflected in the lack of people available for all kinds of charity work.

"There seems to be so much demand on people's time these days that there is not enough people to go around. We do really hope to get some extra help this year," he added.

n If you could spare a couple of hours during any weekday to sell poppies please telephone Peter Thompson on 01473 747983.

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