Lancashire's red rose becomes the red poppy in remembrance of the county's armed forces heroes

Lest we forget . . . the Poppy Appeal is celebrating its 100th anniversary.

Saturday, 6th November 2021, 4:55 am

And Lancashire's red rose is becoming the red poppy to mark the glorious centenary.

The famous Leyland tank at a roundabout near the town is fronted by a new carpet of the iconic flowers to raise awareness of the annual Royal British Legion fundraiser.

One couple in Leyland have turned their garden into a show of remembrance to raise money for the charity which supports members of our armed forces.

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Leyland's famous Centurion Tank on a roundabout near the town has a carpet of poppies to honour our war heroes.

And Preston's veterans' chief Colonel David Waters has urged people: "Please dig deep and give as much as you can to purchase your poppy - then wear it with pride to show your appreciation for what our armed forces past and present have done for us."

The centenary comes just a year after the Royal British Legion was forced to withdraw its poppy collectors from the streets for the first time in its history due to the Covid pandemic.

Services of remembrance were also cancelled and the safety measures are believed to have cost the Legion millions in vital donations.

This year, with restrictions relaxed, the charity has around 40,000 collectors out and about selling the iconic poppy to raise much-needed cash to fund its ongoing work with veterans.

The garden in St James Gardens, Leyland which has been decorated to mark Remembrance.

The Prince of Wales launched the centenary appeal last week declaring "Every poppy counts."

He said the significance of the poppy was as relevant today as it ever was. And he invited the nation to "come together and once again wear a poppy in support of our armed forces community."

Gary Ryan, from the Royal British Legion, echoed the message. saying: "Every poppy does count, which is why getting our collectors back out in local communities is so important."

In St James Gardens, Leyland, locals are marvelling at the remembrance display put on by a couple who regularly raise funds for charity in their front garden.

The poppy celebration in St James Gardens.

"We did a smaller one for the Poppy Appeal last year and raised £658 - it was a fantastic response," said the lady of the house, who asked not to be named.

"My husband and I made a pact some time ago to raise money for charity, but always anonymously.

"People living round here know who we are, but we would prefer not to be named in the paper. It's not about us, it's about the appeal."

The display includes uniformed figures, flags, bunting, commemorative crosses, a First World War soldier silhouette and a cascade of poppies, with music playing in the background.

The tank roundabout honours the fallen.

All donations will go to the Legion appeal, although the couple admit the collection has started slowly with only around £30 raised in the first few days.

"I'm sure it will speed up a bit over the weekend," said the householder. "People are usually very generous around here. And when word gets out we're hoping people will come from further afield to have a look.

"We did one for Halloween with three marquees to create a spooky walk and we raised more than £2,000 for charity. We also do one at Christmas with lots of festive lights and Disney themes. That usually does very well too.

"We wanted to support the Poppy Appeal because I personally don't think this country does enough for its armed forces. They give their lives, or they come back terribly wounded or psychologically affected and we don't give them the support they deserve.

"I don't have any relatives who have been in the armed forces, but I still think the Royal British Legion do a great job."

Col Waters asked the public to be particularly mindful this year of the veterans of the Afghan conflict, many of whom felt demoralised by Britain's decision to pull out of the country after 20 years and hand it back to the Taliban.

"This year has been particularly difficult for our servicemen and women who served in Afghanistan," he said. "Many have been left feeling their sacrifices were in vain, but nothing could be further from the truth.

"Their efforts made Afghanistan a far better place to live in and it becomes more obvious by the day the freedoms that we brought to the civilian population are now being sadly missed to say the least.

"Nevertheless, the horrors of war have resurfaced for many and the feeling of anger and frustration at having ‘the rug pulled from under the military’ by the sudden change of American foreign policy are hard to live with on both sides of the Atlantic.

"These men and women need our support to show we value them and that they have not failed – they did everything asked of them and more."

PRESTON REMEMBERS

Preston's Remembrance programme begins on Monday when veterans will march from the Town Hall to St George's Shopping Centre for the laying of the first wooden cross in the Bullring.

On Thursday - November 11 - there will be a service and a two-minute silence at the city's War Memorial at 11am, followed at 1:30pm by a service involving schoolchildren in St George's Church, off Lune Street.

And on Remembrance Sunday (November 14) there will be a parade and service at the War Memorial and on the Flag Market.