Mayor of Wandsworth urges residents to give generously to poppy appeal

Published: Friday, October 30, 2020

Wandsworth’s Mayor Cllr Jane Cooper is calling on residents to support this year’s Poppy Appeal.

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Cllr Cooper said: “The annual Poppy Appeal raises vital funds for the Royal British Legion and provides the lion’s share of the money it needs to support and help those who have given so much for their country.

“By giving generously to the Legion’s annual poppy appeal you can help support these brave men and women and their families.”

Every year the appeal raises around £50m which ensures practical help can be given 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.

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 First World War fighting was in Flanders in Belgium and 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.

For further information about its work visit the of The Royal British Legion website which has more information about the 2020 Poppy Appeal and how it is raising funds despite the Covid-19 pandemic.