Mayor Urges Support For Poppy Appeal

Cllr Leslie McDonnell calls on residents to give generously

This year's Poppy Appeal, which celebrates its 95th anniversary, is organised as usual by the Royal British Legion.

Wandsworth Council is a keen supporter of the appeal and has arranged for poppy collection boxes to be placed around the town hall.

Every year around £40m is raised which funds 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.

Fundraiser Kathy Pepper (left) with the Putney Exchange's Anne Partridge and the Mayor

This year, the Legion is asking the nation to Rethink Remembrance by recognising the sacrifices made not just by the armed forces of the past, but by today’s generation too.

On its website it states: “By wearing a poppy, you aren’t just remembering the fallen: You’re supporting a new generation of veterans and service personnel that need our support.”

Cllr McDonnell, a former army reservist who rose to the rank of major in the Royal Artillery and who also serves as the borough’s Armed Forces Champion, said: “The Royal British Legion plays an absolutely vital role in helping those who have given so much for their country. By giving generously to the annual poppy appeal you can help support these brave men and women and also their families too.”

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 produced its first poppies a year later. It 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 idea of using artificial poppies to commemorate the sacrifices of armed services personnel were 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 in Picardy in northern France. In the devastated, shell-marked battlefields virtually the only thing that would grow were poppies. McCrae, a doctor serving in a Canadian regiment, 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

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