I joined poppy sellers for Remembrance Sunday - but their work doesn't stop after the parades

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I joined Poppy Sellers in Touchwood Solihull for a day to find out how they are raising funds and awareness for the Royal British Legion and helping our armed services community all year round

The Poppy Appeal is the Royal British Legion’s biggest fundraising campaign, held every year in November, during the period of Remembrance. But they provides financial, social and emotional support to millions of serving and ex-servicemen and women and their families all year round.

I joined several volunteers in Touchwood shopping centre in Solihull to find out more about the Poppy Appeal and spoke to shoppers about their reasons for wearing a poppy.

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Poppy Appeal Volunteers in Touchwood SolihullPoppy Appeal Volunteers in Touchwood Solihull
Poppy Appeal Volunteers in Touchwood Solihull | Dylan Hayward

Rob Walker, branch secretary and standard bearer at Solihull Royal British Legion, was one of three volunteers working on the stall. Rob who been involved in the RBL for many years told me the that the response form the public had been ‘great’.

He said; “People are very generous and supportive of our cause. We also get a lot of people who want to share their stories with us, or thank us for what we do. It’s very rewarding and humbling to hear from them."

As we spoke, the stall started to get busier. One of those who stopped by was Chris who said she wears a poppy every year to show her respect and appreciation for the armed forces. Chris said she was donating as a 'gesture of respect and to support those who served our country'.

Chris and a Royal British Legion volunteer at Touchwood Shopping Centre.Chris and a Royal British Legion volunteer at Touchwood Shopping Centre.
Chris and a Royal British Legion volunteer at Touchwood Shopping Centre. | Dylan Hayward

'It’s not about glorifying war or supporting any particular side'

The Poppy Appeal is not only about raising money, but also about raising awareness and educating the public about the history and significance of the poppy symbol. Rob explained that the poppy is a reminder of the sacrifices made by the armed forces in past and present conflicts, and a symbol of hope for a peaceful future.

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He said; “The poppy is not a political statement, it’s not about glorifying war or supporting any particular side. It’s about honouring those who gave their lives for our freedom, and those who are still serving today. It’s about showing respect and gratitude to them and their families.”

One of the shoppers who bought a poppy from the stall was said she always wears a poppy to remember her mother, who had a close encounter with death during the Second World War.

“My mother was playing on a bike with her friend in Shirley during the Second World War, when they saw an enemy plane flying overhead. They panicked and ran for cover, as the plane turned around and came back for them. They managed to hide in a concrete air raid shelter, just in time to avoid the air raid.”

Many families had air raid shelters outside their homes. Here’s one being built in March 1939 . Photo: Sunderland EchoMany families had air raid shelters outside their homes. Here’s one being built in March 1939 . Photo: Sunderland Echo
Many families had air raid shelters outside their homes. Here’s one being built in March 1939 . Photo: Sunderland Echo | Sunderland Echo

The Poppy Appeal is a vital source of funding for the RBL, which relies on public donations to carry out its work.The Poppy Appeal runs each year until November 11, Remembrance Day - but the work of this charity is vital all year round. If you want to support the Poppy Appeal, you can visit the RBL website to find out more about how to donate, volunteer, or get involved with the Royal British Legion which is helping our armed forces community every day.

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