White ri­val won’t hit red poppy sales, says Le­gion

Kentish Gazette Canterbury & District - - Front Page - By Gerry War­ren gwar­ren@thek­m­group.co.uk @Ger­ry_war­ren

Bri­tish Le­gion vet­er­ans in Can­ter­bury say record sales of pea­ce­pro­mot­ing white pop­pies are un­likely to dent sup­port for its an­nual Poppy Ap­peal.

The de­bate over the ef­fect of the white poppy on sales of the tra­di­tional red ver­sion has bub­bled over na­tion­ally in re­cent weeks, with top mil­i­tary brass clash­ing with the group be­hind the paci­fist move­ment, The Peace Pledge Union (PPU).

Former com­man­der of the Bri­tish Forces in Afghanistan, Col Richard Kemp, de­scribed the white poppy as “an in­sult to the war dead”, claim­ing it de­prives ex-ser­vice­men of vi­tal funds.

But pres­i­dent of the Royal Bri­tish Le­gion’s Can­ter­bury branch, Gerry Fer­rett, does not ex­pect a dip in red poppy sales in the city.

“They are com­pletely dif­fer­ent things,” he said. “The red poppy is about our men and women who gave their lives in wars.

“It wasn’t their choice, they served their coun­try and died and we are re­mem­ber­ing them through the red poppy.

“That is the Le­gion’s sym­bol of re­mem­brance.

“In some cases peo­ple wear them both, but I’m not con­vinced it will have a great ef­fect on red poppy sales.

“And it must be re­mem­bered that the red poppy has a spe­cific pur­pose as well as re­mem­brance, be­cause the money raised goes to sup­port those Bri­tish ser­vice­men and women who have suf­fered, and their fam­i­lies.”

Mr Fer­rett says col­lec­tors for the Poppy Ap­peal this year are re­port­ing par­tic­u­larly brisk busi­ness, sim­i­lar to last year when the branch col­lected a to­tal of £72,000.

“I think the 100th an­niver­sary of the Great War and the sto­ries about the Somme and Pass­chen­daele touched peo­ple and con­trib­uted to the giv­ing,” he said.

Launch­ing this year’s white poppy cam­paign, the PPU said that high sales in re­cent years were in part “due to grow­ing un­ease with the Le­gion’s ap­proach”.

The PPU is the old­est sec­u­lar paci­fist or­gan­i­sa­tion in Bri­tain and has been cam­paign­ing for a war­less world since 1932.

It is pro­mot­ing the white poppy as a sym­bol of com­mit­ment to peace and to re­mem­ber all those who have died, both mil­i­tary and civil­ians, in all wars on both sides.

PPU co-or­di­na­tor Sy­mon Hill says peo­ple buy­ing white pop­pies have been put off the red ver­sion by the “Bri­tish Le­gion’s in­creas­ingly na­tion­al­is­tic tone and sidelin­ing of civil­ian ca­su­al­ties”.

“White pop­pies rep­re­sent re­mem­brance of all vic­tims of war, both civil­ians and mem­bers of armed forces, of all na­tion­al­i­ties,” he said. “They also rep­re­sent a com­mit­ment to peace and a re­jec­tion of at­tempts to glo­rify war.

“The Royal Bri­tish Le­gion im­ply that their way is the only way of do­ing re­mem­brance. But if our re­mem­brance is to be mean­ing­ful, we must recog­nise the re­al­ity of war and learn from it, and that means cam­paign­ing for peace.” Can­ter­bury Le­gion pres­i­dent Gerry Fer­rett

A re­mem­brance ser­vice will be held at Christ Church, in Wil­liam Street, from 9.30am to 10.30am on Sun­day.

A pa­rade will then form in Wil­liam Street and march to the Me­mo­rial Park via High Street.

There, a ser­vice, in­clud­ing a two-minute si­lence, will run from 11am to around 11.45am and be fol­lowed by wreath lay­ing.

A re­mem­brance pa­rade will start at Queens Hall in Forbes Road on Sun­day and be led by the Bri­gade of Gurkhas.

The 41-strong band will lead the march to the War Me­mo­rial in Stone Street, where wreaths will be laid in mem­ory of the town’s fallen.

A ser­vice will be held at the par­ish church be­fore the pa­rade marches up Pre­ston Street, where the Mayor of Faver­sham, Cllr Shiel Camp­bell, will take the salute.

Former lord mayor, Cllr Ge­orge Met­calfe, and Mrs Lil­lian Met­calfe will at­tend Re­mem­brance Sun­day at the War Me­mo­rial, Ox­ford Street on Sun­day, fol­lowed by a re­cep­tion at the Royal Bri­tish Le­gion Club. Ser­vice starts at 10.30am.

The white poppy, above, pro­moted by paci­fist group Peace Pledge Union, has been de­scribed as ‘an in­sult to the war dead’, with claims it de­prives ex-ser­vice­men of the vi­tal funds that are raised by the sell­ing of the Bri­tish Le­gion’s tra­di­tional red ver­sion

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