Cllr Jane Cooper calls on residents to give generously
The annual appeal, which this year celebrates its 90th anniversary, is organised by the Royal British Legion. The council is a keen supporter of the appeal and has arranged for poppy collection boxes to be placed around the town hall.
Last year the appeal raised £36m which is being used to provide practical help to men and women who are currently serving, or have previously served in the armed forces, as well their dependants, especially during times of hardship and distress.
This support includes helping widows and relatives visit the graves of loved ones buried overseas, providing residential and nursing home places, making visits to the housebound and long term sick, and representing veterans and their descendants at war pension appeal tribunals.
Around half of the money raised each year is spent on grants for disabled ex-servicemen and women and on helping equip people for civilian life through interest free small business loans and job training.
Cllr Cooper, who formally awarded 2nd Royal Tank Regiment (2RTR) the Freedom of the Borough earlier this year in gratitude for its service on behalf of the nation and in recognition of its historic links with Wandsworth, said:
“In September I was fortunate enough to meet some of Britain’s bravest soldiers who had just returned from Afghanistan’s Helmand province. Over the course of the previous eight years, they had seen ten tours of duty in both Afghanistan and Iraq.
“One of the best ways we can show our gratitude to them and to all the other brave members of our armed services is to support the Royal British Legion’s annual Poppy Appeal. The legion does an incredibly important job assisting those who have fought and their families. By giving generously to the appeal you can help support those who have given so much for their country.”
In the run up to Remembrance Sunday, the legion's flag will fly from flagpoles at the town hall in recognition of the charity's invaluable work. The Royal British Legion was founded in 1921 and currently has around 400,000 members, although more than ten million people are eligible for its help.
More than 16,000 British service personnel have been killed or injured on active service since 1945.
The first donations for artificial poppies were given in 1921, inspired by John McCrae's 1915 poem 'In Flanders' Fields'.
Some of the bloodiest fighting of World War One took place in Flanders in Belgium and the Picardy region of northern France. In the aftermath of the war’s total devastation the only thing which would grow on the battlefields was the poppy. McCrae, a doctor serving there with the Canadian armed forces, wrote these verses about what he saw:
In Flanders’ fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders’ fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe;
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high,
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders’ fields.
November 2, 2010