Poppy Appeal launches again in Winchester

Hampshire Chronicle: The Hampshire Poppy Appeal was launched at the Army Aviation Centre in Middle Wallop last week The Hampshire Poppy Appeal was launched at the Army Aviation Centre in Middle Wallop last week

IT is time to remember heroes again in Winchester.

The Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal was launched in the city last Saturday.

The Winchester branch is looking to surpass last year's appeal where it broke its record by raising nearly £47,000.

The county branch also had a bumper year in 2011, raising £1.3m, £50,000 more than 2010 and the fourth year in a row to break the £1m barrier.

Derek Green, chairman of the Winchester branch of the Royal British Legion, has organised the local appeal for 13 years. In his first year he raised £9,000, a fifth of the 2011 total.

He said: “A lot of work has gone into it. But it is also recognition of what is happening in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

The appeal is always looking for volunteers although the recent involvement of army, navy and air force cadets has been a big help. Mr Green can be contacted on 07846 829317.

One volunteer on Saturday was Helen Osborne, 35. She said: “I used to work for the armed forces so this is very important to me. Some young people don't relate to the Poppy Appeal; they think it is just World War Two but it is also Afghanistan.

“They see older people collecting, so it is nice to get younger people involved.”

At the county launch last Thursday young and old soldiers stood shoulder to shoulder at the Army Aviation Centre in Middle Wallop.

Guests included Staff Sergeant Arthur Shackleton - a 94-year-old veteran who was wounded at Arnhem in 1944 - and teenage air trooper Leah Kenny with whom Arthur shared his wartime experience.

Thousands of poppies will now be distributed across the county and will go on sale ahead of Remembrance Sunday on November 11. An army of volunteers will now help with the appeal and sell the poppies at various locations across the region.

Colonel Peter Eadic, commandant of the Army Aviation Centre urged the public to give generously.

He said: “It doesn't matter whether they are 18 or 80. If they have seen service they may need support and the Royal British Legion and the Poppy Appeal raises money to support everyone and their families when they need it the most.

“It is a massive safety net and a huge reassurance to all of us.”

Serving Hampshire sergeant major dad-of-two Berni Jenkins said that in the 23 years he has served in the Army in places including Northern Island, Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan, he has seen first hand how the money can help his colleagues and their families.

He said: “It is massively important to show our support for those who have fallen, given the ultimate sacrifice for our country, for our nation and for those who have sacrificed but are still about, still hurting and needing help.

“Please wear your poppy with pride. To me seeing someone wearing a poppy is a sign of support - for those soldiers before us and in the future too.”

Lieutenant Colonel Nick Nicholls, 86, who was a pilot in the Second World War, said: “In a way the Royal British Legion is a little remote until something nasty happens. The Army is like one big family so when something nasty happens they respond, their protective arms reach out to help and that has happened on many occasions.”

The Royal British Legion said it spends £1.7m a week on care and support for military families including grants, employment advice and funding, emotional support, tribunal and inquest advice, care homes and family breaks.

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