Time to wear your poppy with pride

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BRANCHES of the Royal British Legion are appealing for help in hitting a target of £40m for this year’s Poppy Appeal.

BRANCHES of the Royal British Legion are appealing for help in hitting a target of £40m for this year’s Poppy Appeal.

The national 2011 appeal, which is being launched this weekend, is aiming to raise £4m more than last year’s record amount of £36m.

This year alone more than £72m – £1.4m a week – has been spent nationally providing assistance to more than 160,000 serving and ex-service armed forces personnel and their families.

Lincolnshire’s Poppy Appeal is run by 113 organisers and an army of volunteers.

The county’s Legion office is currently the busiest in the country, handling a record number of welfare cases.

The Legion spent £733,509 in the county in 2010 on 687 beneficiaries. The money bought special equipment such as mobility scooters but also paid for essentials such as food and furniture and also workshops and training courses.

STAMFORD branch secretary Steve Bonde said several volunteers had come forward recently and younger people were joining the branch.

“Compared to a few years ago when we were scratching around we now have enough,” he said.

“Awareness of what we do has never been higher, there is real enthusiasm, both with providing help physically and with contributing financially,” he said.

He and other helpers have been out this week in a hearse loaned by funeral directors RJ Scholes delivering collection boxes in Stamford town centre.

Volunteers will be in Morrisons and Waitrose supermarkets from Monday through to November 12, in High Street on November 11 and 12 and making house-to-house collections from tomorrow for the next two weeks.

There will be a coffee morning on Thursday, November 3, from 10am to midday at the United Reformed Church Hall in Star Lane, Stamford and a Poppy Appeal band concert with Stamford Brass in the Corn Exchange Theatre on Saturday, November 5, at 7.30pm.

Last year in Stamford there was a record collection of £37,733 last year, almost double the amount in 2005/6.

The Stamford branch has four welfare caseworkers and welcomes calls from members of the public who know someone who might benefit from the Legion’s services. To find out more call Mr Bonde on 01780 757041.

RUTLAND’S Poppy Appeal for 2011 got off to a good start with several hundred pounds raised at a concert organised by the Oakham RBL branch. Held at Oakham School, it featured the Swing Wing Band from RAF College Cranwell and played to a packed house.

Oakham branch vice-president and local magistrate, Nigel Sudborough OBE of London Road, Uppingham, said the event had been a huge success and reflected the fantastic effort Rutland made.

Mr Sudborough, a retired air vice marshal, said the amount raised increased year on year.

“In these difficult financial times we find ourselves in, the response from the people of Rutland has been amazing. I personally did door-to-door in Uppingham last year and it was remarkable, our best season ever,” he said.

His wife is also a volunteer and her great-grandfather, Lt Gen Sir John Brown, helped found the British Legion and was national chairman from 1930 to 1934.

Mr Sudborough praised the volunteers who will be doing door-to-door collections and standing out on street corners whatever the weather during the next two weeks. He stressed that it has never been more important for people to give to the charity to help ex-servicemen and their families.

“People naturally associate the appeal and Remembrance Day with the two world wars but it is so relevant today with our armed forces in constant action in such places as Afghanistan,” he said.

Peter Baker, secretary of the Empingham branch, said the £38,000 raised in Rutland last year represented £1.50 per person - the second highest per capita rate in England. His team of about 100 volunteers are already out and about delivering collection boxes. He said they were always looking for volunteers – anyone interested can ring him on 01780 460378.

The welfare fund of the Oakham branch of the Royal British Legion is mayor Joyce Lucas’ chosen charity for this year.

LANGTOFT and DeepingS district branch of the Legion has a new poppy organiser, Sue Mellor, assisted by her husband Richard. The couple have lived at Chestnut Way, Market Deeping for 11 years and both are ex-RAF personnel and members of RAFA.

Sue said she had been out and about this week delivering boxes to pubs and shops in the area. Her volunteers will be at Market Deeping Market and the Co-operative supermarket on Wednesday, at the market again on Wednesday, November 9 and will be at Tesco and the Discount Warehouse on the weekends of November 4 and 5 and November 11 and 12. There will be door-to-door collections in the town and villages and she is hoping that local air cadets will help with street collections.

“We are appealing for volunteers, several of our regular ones have had operations or are simply getting on a bit. This is such a worthy cause,” she said. Anyone interested can ring her on 01778 347305.

Brian Marsden of West Deeping, who is on the Legion local and county committees and is eastern area liaison officer, said the local branch was hoping to improve on last year’s total of £12,486.

“We always aim to increase our takings year by year and hopefully we will do that this year,” he said.

BOURNE and District branch of the Royal British Legion will be going all out to increase last year’s Poppy Appeal total of £14,458.

Vice president of the branch Tim Bladon is asking people to give generously for such a great cause.

Collection boxes are mostly in place in various locations for the start of the appeal tomorrow and volunteers will be at Sainsbury’s and the Co-operative Foodstore every day throughout the next two weeks.

Mr Bladon said that they no longer made door-to-door collections.

“These are unruly times and we don’t think it fair to put our volunteers, some of them elderly, in possible danger by sending them out at night to collect money,” he said.

But young people such as scouts and cadets will be lending a hand, there will be a coffee morning and a stall manned by ex-service personnel will be at the market on the Thursday before Remembrance Sunday.

Members of the Bourne men’s and ladies’ branches held a meal to celebrate the legion’s 90th anniversary on Thursday last week.

A total of 25 members joined in the party at the Angel Hotel in Market Place, Bourne.

Member Pam Ironmonger, who organised the meal and received a bunch of flowers for doing so, said: “The meal was very good, the Angel did it at a very good price and everybody really enjoyed it and said we must do it again.”