Annual Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal launches in Wakefield district

Sandra Pickin: New veteran's champion, pictured by the war memorial in Wakefield city centre.'w303a306

Sandra Pickin: New veteran's champion, pictured by the war memorial in Wakefield city centre.'w303a306

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It’s hard to imagine what it’s like to have served in the armed forces and what life is like for military personnel once they have left the front line.

Months, if not years, of battling for Queen and country and the daily, very real, possibility you could be killed while performing your duty is bound to have a lasting effect.

The thousands of men and women across the country who serve in the forces often feel distanced from society when they return to civilian life.

Then there are those who paid the ultimate sacrifice; who lost their lives serving their country and the devastated relatives they leave behind. And to put it into perspective it is just 100 years since the outbreak of the First World War,

People across the district can show their respects and thanks to former service men and women by donating a small amount of loose change to this year’s Royal British Legion (RBL) Poppy Appeal.

This year’s appeal launches across the area today.

Committed volunteers, many who have served in the forces themselves, will be out in supermarket foyers to sell poppies and pin badges to raise funds for the appeal.

Last year branches across the district raised more than £50,000 to support our troops

This year volunteers are hoping to beat that total .

Sandra Pickin, Wakefield Council’s armed forces champion, said: “These men and women have put their lives on the line for our freedom, in fact some have even given their lives for us to live as we do, so they deserve help and support with anything they need.

“This year is the centenary of the First World War and a lot of people lost their lives during those four years so we need to pay our respects to them.”

The Poppy Appeal is the legion’s flagship fundraising appeal and runs for two weeks before Remembrance Sunday.

Last year £39m was raised across the country.

Miss Pickin, who is also secretary of the legion’s Hemsworth branch, said: “I’ve been involved with the legion for ten years now and I’ve always believed in the campaign.

“But it’s not about remembering the troops for a day or two weeks while the Poppy Appeal is running. We must remember and respect them all day, every day.”

The RBL formed in May 1921 bringing four national organisations of ex-servicemen together that had established themselves after the First World War.

It launched the Poppy Appeal in 1945 following the Second World War.

Miss Pickin said: “It’s not just about buying poppies either. Branches are always looking for more volunteers and if people could just give an hour of their time, it would be a massive help.

“My message to anybody thinking of buying a poppy is to just go and do it - and wear it with pride knowing you are helping troops and their families.

She added: “One thing people always ask is where does the money go?

“The answer is simple. We help anyone who has served in the forces with anything they might need, from breakaway centre, offering veterans and their families a little respite, to support with finding employment or re-training.”

For more information on the Poppy Appeal and the work of the RBL visit www.britishlegion.org.uk