SALISBURY will be at the heart of a special launch event for the Royal British Legion’s 2023 Poppy Appeal.
The city branch of the RBL will launch the appeal on Saturday (October 28), with an event at 9.45am in the Market Square, opposite the Guildhall.
The public are invited to be a part of the event, which will include the presentation of poppies to the vice lord lieutenant of Wiltshire, General Andrew Gregory, and mayor of Salisbury, Cllr Atiquk Hoque.
Also present will be guest of honour, Ron Collins, who will present the first poppy to the the vice lord lieutenant.
Ron will be celebrating his 102nd birthday on October 25, an anniversary he shares with the Poppy Appeal itself, which also started in 1921.
He is a WW2 veteran after joining the RAF in 1942 as a Radar mechanic.
Unfortunately, he was captured at the Battle of Leros in 1943 and incarcerated in Stalag Luft 1 until the end of the war in 1945, after which he went on to serve a full career in the army, in the REME.
As the UK’s biggest Armed Forces Charity, the legion continues to distribute the proceeds of the Poppy Appeal to current and former service personnel who are in need.
In 2022, people in the armed forces community in Wiltshire received more than 300 grants, totalling more than £250,000 to help with everything from housing, the cost of living, help with their mobility and getting back to work.
This year’s Remembrance poppy has been given a makeover and will now be completely plastic-free and easily recycled. The new poppies will be sold alongside stock of the original poppy.
Bob Barwick, vice president of the Salisbury Branch of the Royal British Legion, said: “We are delighted that Ron Collins is joining us as our guest of honour to launch this year’s appeal. He is a force of nature who epitomises all the special qualities of his generation.
“His amazing service over many decades reminds us all of the special debt we owe to our armed forces past and present.”
Bob added: “This year we have marked both the 70th anniversary of the Armistice at the end of the Korean War (1953) and the end of the Falklands War (1982).
“Although media focus has been on recent operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, these older campaigns remind us of the ongoing need to help veterans from across all the generations.”
Meanwhile, a dedicated band of volunteers have been busy and have distributed collection boxes and poppies to businesses, schools and supermarkets across the city.
This year’s appeal runs between October 28 and November 12.
The Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal was first held in the aftermath of the First World War in 1921, when red silk poppies were sold, raising more than £106,000.
Today, the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal is the charity’s biggest fundraising campaign and takes place every year in the run up to Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday.