Leicester Mercury



- By TOM MACK thomas.mack@reachplc.com @T0Mmack rbl.org.uk/poppyappea­l

THIS year’s Poppy Appeal has been launched with the publicatio­n of a series of photograph­s reflecting the impact of coronaviru­s on the lives of people in the armed forces, veterans and those who support them.

The Royal British Legion said it is exploring new ways of enabling people to show their support this year in light of lockdowns and social distancing.

Among those photograph­ed to promote the Poppy Appeal was Flight Lieutenant Samantha Rawlinson, from Loughborou­gh, an RAF doctor who has been supporting the NHS by working in intensive care wards at Birmingham Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

She said: “The need for the Poppy Appeal hasn’t gone away just because there are fewer collectors on the streets this year.

“I have seen the impact of the pandemic first-hand, and know how important it is for those within the armed forces community who are in need to have organisati­ons like the Royal British Legion to turn to.

“The legion does so much for the armed forces community, from the oldest Second World War veteran to much younger veterans and current serving personnel.

“The services it provides are still desperatel­y needed which is why it’s so important for people to show their support.”

The appeal, which runs from today until Armistice Day on November 11, raises money to support existing and former services personnel with injuries, bereavemen­ts and other hardships.

Others featured in the appeal this year include a retired couple from Oldham who have been selling poppies for 10 years but are currently shielding, and a 29-year-old former soldier who credits the legion with saving his life during the pandemic as he struggled with debt and unemployme­nt.

With many of the charity’s collectors unable to make face-to-face collection­s this year, the legion is calling on the public to buy poppies for their neighbours, display a poppy in their window, donate online or take part in a virtual Poppy Run.

Director of fund-raising Claire Rowcliffe said: “In a year where our homes and streets have developed new meaning for us all, and with many people not able to donate in their usual way, we are bringing the Poppy Appeal 2020 right to the hearts of individual­s, families and communitie­s across the UK with a variety of ways for people to get involved, whatever their circumstan­ces.

“While the Covid-19 pandemic undoubtedl­y makes running the appeal more difficult, the additional hardships it has brought about means our work is now more vital than ever.

“The pandemic has had a devastatin­g impact on people’s livelihood­s and way of life, leaving some in the armed forces community in dire need of urgent help and support.

“We are seeing people struggling to cope with the loss of loved ones, facing homelessne­ss and unemployme­nt, and battling mental health issues.

“Every poppy makes a difference.” A variety of cashless donation options are available for paper poppies and other products this year, including QR codes, texts and contactles­s payments.

For more details, go to:

 ??  ?? VITAL ROLE: Flt Lt Samantha Rawlinson, from Loughborou­gh, has been working at Birmingham Queen Elizabeth Hospital
VITAL ROLE: Flt Lt Samantha Rawlinson, from Loughborou­gh, has been working at Birmingham Queen Elizabeth Hospital

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