The Armed Forces were out in force as this year's Poppy Appeal was launched. More than 250 troops gave up their time to help raise £1 million in just one day to kick-start this year’s campaign. Some of the volunteers had recently returned from operations and chose to delay their post-tour leave.
Most of the volunteers came from London district units, but some came up to London for the day - Fusiliers, Paras and HCR soldiers bolstered the numbers in the capital. Troops took up positions across London covering most of the tube and major train stations as Waterloo Station and Chancery Lane.
There was also a touring celebrity Poppy Appeal bus driving round helping to raise funds. Celebrities on board included Ben Shephard, Barbara Windsor, Pam St Clement and our very own Capt Heather Stanning.
Capt Garth Banks, Grenadier Guards, (Pictured with Nell McAndrew) was on the ‘Celebrity Bus’ that toured around London and said: “The Royal British Legion has been doing a lot of good work for Service men, women and their families. I wanted to show my support here today at LPD and help them in their bid to raise a million pounds.”
The Poppy Appeal not only raises vital money to support serving and ex-serving personnel but also raises the profile and awareness of our Armed Forces. Lest we forget.”
And Captain Roland Spiller from the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment said: “We in the Household Cavalry feel very strongly that we should support the volunteers who are raising valuable funds and awareness today. As with the rest of the Armed Forced, the Household Cavalry will always do what it can to support its veterans and remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
The Household Cavalry has sustained casualties in its recent tours of Iraq and Afghanistan, so remembrance is as personal to soldiers today as it is to those of previous generations: it really brings home to this generation of soldiers the scale of the sacrifices made by previous generations. We remember with gratitude and admiration all those who have faithfully served their country.”
The money raised on London Poppy Day will go towards the 2012 Poppy Appeal fundraising target of £42m which will enable the Legion to carry out its vital work helping Armed Forces families. The Royal British Legion spends £1.7m every week in direct welfare support, equivalent to £90m each year, answering more than 165,000 calls for help.
Charles Byrne, Director of Fundraising at the Royal British Legion, added: "At a time when pride in the capital has never been higher, London Poppy Day is a chance for Londoners to show their support and gratitude for those who serve. Every year we have more than doubled the amount raised on the day. In 2011 we hit £450,000 - and this year we're aiming to hit £1m."