Launch of Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal in Lancashire

Officially launching the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal in Lancashire, a military commander pinned the iconic flower to the chest of a veteran.

Commander Russ Miller pins a poppy on veteran Jim Allen. Pic: Paul Yates
Commander Russ Miller pins a poppy on veteran Jim Allen. Pic: Paul Yates

Dignitaries, serving soldiers and veterans gathered at Fulwood Barracks to kick off the appeal, which this year sports the theme, Remember Together.

Announcing the ceremony the Royal British Legion’s county chairman Michael Turner opened with words from the poem For the Fallen by Laurence Binyon.

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left to grow old,” he said.

The ceremony launching the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal at Fulwood Barracks. Pic: Paul Yates

“Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.”

Following a brief silence he added: “We will remember them.

“For your tomorrow we gave our today.”

Speaking during the service, before pinning the poppy on veteran Jim Allen, commander Russ Miller (OBE) said: “Preston as a city and the North West as a region is one of the highest contributors to recruitment in the British Army.

Group picture following the ceremony launching the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal at Fulwood Barracks. Pic: Paul Yates

"As a consequence when the soldiers live the army many of them settle in the area.

"It means there are a lot of veterans here and the work of the Royal British Legion is crucial.”

Veteran Jim Allen, who is also Blackpool Poppy Appeal Organiser, had been a member of the King’s Own Scottish Borderers Reserves.

It was only when he attempted to join the army on a fulltime basis that medical tests revealled he had spina bifida. He said: “I was with the reserve forces for almost three years.

“I decided that I would go into the military fulltime It wasn’t until then that I discovered I had an underlying form of spina bifida.

“I stopped working and for about two years I sat in my house feeling sorry for myself.

“Then I though I’m going to start doing voluntary work.”

Alan Whitmore of the Lancashire Poppy Appeal group, said: “This is about remembrance and wearing the poppy with pride.

“It’s about remembering those who served in the Commonwealth and home front as well.”

Deputy Lord Lieutenant Col Alan Jolley (OBE), who was representing the Lord Lieutenant, said: "The poppy appeal isn't just for veterans.

"It supports the serving servicemen, it supports their families. It supports with training for those who are leaving with new skills and it helps with resettlement.

"It's an all-encompassing, all-round charity."

Speaking during the ceremony county coun Alf Clempson, armed forces and veterans champion, said: "Every year the Royal British Legion, through the poppy appeal help us remember those who have served to defend our freedom and way of life.

"It is vital we remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice in war and conflict.

"Through money raised the Royal British Legion support those who live with the physical and mental scars of service and they do vital work supporting them and their families."

Ian Barber, project lead for the Lancashire Armed Forces Covenant Hub, says he is urging local authorities which are signatories of the covenant to support veterans in more tangible ways.

He said he wanted signatories to "increase the output of their delivery of the covenant" and suggested hosting business breakfasts with talks on military transition, for example.