Remembering with respect
AS we approach Remembrance Sunday next month, millions of people will be wearing poppies as a mark of respect. But did you know the annual Poppy Appeal also raises millions for ex-servicemen and women and their dependents?
AS we approach Remembrance Sunday next month, millions of people will be wearing poppies as a mark of respect.
But did you know the annual Poppy Appeal also raises millions for ex-servicemen and women and their dependents? Feature writer JAMES MARSTON finds out more about the appeal.
TOMORROW this year's Poppy Appeal in Suffolk will be launched on Ipswich's Cornhill.
Last year the county raised £451,000, an increase of £24,000 from 2004 and for a two-week period 3,000 collectors will offer the famous poppy for sale at railway stations, shop doorways and in the street in a bid to get the public to dig deep for their cause.
Robin Hitchcock from Snape, is leading this year's Suffolk side of the appeal. He said: “With British Service people on active duty in Afghanistan and Iraq and in many other parts of the world, a large proportion of whom are currently under 30, the Royal British Legion's role of safeguarding the welfare and interests of serving and ex-Service people will be needed for many years to come.
“85 years after the first Poppy Day was held to help soldiers returning from WWI, the cost of war remains the same.
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“Every year many thousands of serving and ex-Service people and their families continue to approach The Royal British Legion for help.”
A retired major, Robin served in Malaya, Oman, Germany and Northern Ireland during his military career. He said: “I was in the services and this gives me a chance to raise money for those veterans who have fallen on hard times.
Last year the Poppy Appeal raised a record total of £24.7 million but this accounts for a only third of the £75 million required to fund the Legion's work.
Much of this money goes to fund Poppy Support, the Legion's range of welfare services set up to support those who have served and continue to serve in the British Armed Forces.
Mr Hitchcock said: “It's not just older people who benefit from Poppy Support. The Legion helps people of all ages, providing financial, social and emotional help to all those who have been affected by conflict.
“Beneficiaries range from children to widows, from single mothers to pensioners, in fact anyone who finds themselves in need. About 10.5 million people - that's one in six of the UK population - are eligible to approach us for help.”
As county poppy appeal controller, Robin heads up a team of five assistant poppy appeal controllers, who in turn are reported to by 211 poppy appeal organisers who are in charge of the 3,000 or so collectors.
Robin praised the work of his team: “We could not do it without volunteers giving up their time. We only have two weeks a year to raise as much as we can.”
Are you a Poppy Appeal collector and why do you do it? Has the Royal British Legion helped you? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Each year the Poppy Appeal distributes around 36 million poppies, 100,000 wreaths and sprays and 750,000 little Remembrance crosses. These items are made at the Legion's Poppy Factory in Richmond, Surrey.
Four million ex-service people have a long-term illness or disability.
180,000 ex-service men and women are never visited by a friend or relative.
927,000 ex-service people live on an annual household income of £5,000 or less.
More than 12,000 British Service men and women have been killed or injured on active service since 1945 in conflicts up to the present day, including Bosnia, the Falklands, Afghanistan and Iraq.
There has only been one year (1968) since the Second World War when a British Service person has not been killed on active duty.
The Legion urges members of the public to support the hundreds of thousands of people who need our help by wearing a poppy and making a donation to the Poppy Appeal.
By telephone - call Free phone 0845 845 1945.
By text - text the word Poppy to 85099.
Online - visit the Poppy Appeal website at www.poppy.org.
In person - the Legion has thousands of street collectors and many shops, pubs and businesses have Legion collecting boxes on their premises too.
By post - send a cheque made payable to The Royal British Legion to, The Royal British Legion, FREEPOST NAT4833, Halifax Road, Bowerhill, Melksham, Wiltshire SN12 6BR