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‘It must go on’ - Ipswich man raises thousands for Poppy Appeal

PUBLISHED: 07:30 05 November 2020 | UPDATED: 08:59 05 November 2020

Alan Leech has run the poppy appeal stand at Stoke Park Asda in Ipswich for years after he and his family lived through World War Two. Picture: ASDA/ALAN LEECH

Alan Leech has run the poppy appeal stand at Stoke Park Asda in Ipswich for years after he and his family lived through World War Two. Picture: ASDA/ALAN LEECH

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An Ipswich man born during the war has raised tens of thousands in Poppy Appeals and is dedicated to ensuring the ‘British fighting spirit’ is not forgotten this year.

Alan Leech on the poppy appeal stand at Stoke Park Asda with a member of staff. Picture: ASDAAlan Leech on the poppy appeal stand at Stoke Park Asda with a member of staff. Picture: ASDA

Alan Leech moved to Suffolk from Bromley, Kent, in 1972 has been running the poppy appeal at the Stoke Park Asda since its opening 10 years ago.

He is the standard bearer for the Royal Naval Association in Ipswich and has volunteered for many years.

Last year the Asda stand raised £6,573 and over the past decade an estimated total of around £35,000.

Many members of staff have sons and daughters in the armed forces.

L/R: Alan's father Richard, Alan, his mother Mary and elder brother Colin. Picture: ALAN LEECHL/R: Alan's father Richard, Alan, his mother Mary and elder brother Colin. Picture: ALAN LEECH

Sadly, the national lockdown meant the stand had to be taken down on Wednesday instead of running through to Remembrance Sunday, but the 76-year-old has spoken up about the importance of the occasion.

Mr Leech said: “Currently we hear about other conflicts that are going on but there are not many people who remember one in their lifetimes.

“We were lucky to have won the war but that’s the British fighting spirit for you – it must go on and I’m glad to still be part of it.”

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Mr Leech was born in 1944, one year before the war ended and on the same day British forces dropped the second atom bomb on the Japanese city of Nagasaki.

His father Richard served as a fireman saving people from the rubble of bombings.

He would rush to the bomb sites and put special microphones into the rubble to check if anyone was still alive under the wreckage.

He was later honoured with a British Empire Medal for his service by King George VI.

The letter sent to Alan's father to mark the award of Member of the British Empire. Picture: ALAN LEECHThe letter sent to Alan's father to mark the award of Member of the British Empire. Picture: ALAN LEECH

Mr Leech said: “I am very proud of his award. It is a magnificent medal and I wear it for special occasions.”

Alan’s mother Mary often recalled to him how she would stand outside during the war and watch the dog fights in the skies and later, a sound like hail would start as the empty cartridges fell from the planes above.

She would listen out for the engines noise of V-weapons – German missiles – as when the noise stopped it signalled the release of bombs.

Though the Poppy Appeal has been cut short by the second lockdown, the fundraising is vital as many of the volunteers are elderly and have been unable to help due to the risks of the virus.

You can still donate to the Royal British Legion online.


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