Mayor Urges Support For Poppy Appeal
Wandsworth's Mayor Cllr Brian Prichard is calling on residents of the borough to give generously to this year's Poppy Appeal
The annual appeal, organised by the Royal British Legion, has now been officially launched and poppy sellers can be found in many shopping malls, supermarkets, town centres and transport interchanges.
The council has also arranged for poppy collection boxes to be placed around the town hall and civic offices in order to assist the appeal.
Money raised from the appeal generates around £30m which is used to provide 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.
Cllr Prichard said: "At a time when Britain's armed forces face great peril in Afghanistan, I would urge everyone to do all they can to support the vitally important work of the Royal British Legion. The legion does an incredibly important job assisting those who have fought and their families. By giving generously to this appeal you can help support those who have given so much for their country."
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 legion was founded in 1921 and currently has around 380,000 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 first donations for artificial poppies were given in Britain on November 11, 1921, 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 the Picardy region of northern France. In the aftermath of the war’s total devastation the only thing which would grow on the battlefields was the poppy. McCrae, a doctor serving there with the Canadian armed forces, 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.
October 27, 2009