The Royal British Legion has returned to Kingston to carry out face-to-face collections for the Poppy Appeal.
The Poppy Appeal aims to bring communities around Britain together to remember “the service and sacrifice, friendship and collaboration of the men and women of Britain, the Commonwealth and Allied nations who fought together”, according to the Royal British Legion (RBL).
RBL is the country’s largest Armed Forces charity, providing support to serving men, women and veterans from the British Armed Forces and their families or dependents.
RBL director general Charles Byrne said: “Despite being worried about Covid-19 infection and the security of their jobs, so many of our members, volunteers and staff stepped up to help others, bringing the human contact and support that the RBL does so well.”
On Sunday, an RBL team was strolling through Eden Street. Customers could donate to the cause and receive poppy pin badges in return.
One of RBL’s volunteer said: “This day is not just about the First World War. It is about commemorating the veterans that participated in all subsequent conflicts in the world. It remains a very big day for us Brits, as it unites our divided country.”
The poppy has been a lasting symbol of remembrance of the First World War, with its origin lying in a poem written by John McCrae. In the spring of 1915, shortly after losing a friend in Ypres, he wrote the ground-breaking poem In Flanders Field. He described how the flowering plants grew from the graves of the soldiers buried in Belgium and Northern France, defining it as the first sign of life after death.
The first Poppy Appeal in 1921 raised £106,000, whilst the 2020 campaign raised £46.5 million, according to the charity’s annual reports and account. This amount is just under a third of RBL’s total income. The rest of the money comes from lotteries, trading, donations, legacies, events, membership subscriptions and more.
Last year, volunteers found different, innovative ways to raise funds in a Covid-19-secure way. The number of volunteer ‘telephone buddies’ organised through RBL’s branch network increased from 3,500 to more than 19,000 as the impact of Covid-19 grew. Now, RBL is happy to pick up street fundraising again.
National chairman Una Cleminson said: “Campaigning continued throughout the year and we engaged with national, devolved and local Government on issues that affect the Armed Forces community.
“The pandemic disrupted us but it will not stop us.”