It may still be summer but the Royal British Legion is on the look out for volunteers throughout Chester to support its annual Poppy Appeal.
The legion is urging the public to join forces with them this autumn and lend a hand with the campaign.
In the year that marks 100 years since the end of the First World War, the charity is calling on people across Chester to show their support for the Armed Forces past and present by dedicating their spare time to distribute poppies for donations.
The legion needs volunteers for this year’s appeal in the city with community fundraiser Ruth Jones saying their support will help the charity to continue to provide year-round practical help and advice to the Armed Forces community.
“Every year we are astounded by the overwhelming support from the public who give anything from two hours to two weeks of their free time to help out during the Poppy Appeal,” she said.
“It’s our biggest fundraising campaign and in 2017 we raised more than £61,000 across Chester thanks to the dedication of our volunteers.”
The money raised helps the legion to support serving personnel, veterans and their dependants in a variety of ways such as helping them to manage their debts, funding specialist equipment to aid veterans injured in conflict and sending forces families on much-needed holidays at Poppy Break Centres.
“None of this would be possible without our volunteers,” Ruth added. “Volunteering can provide great opportunities for those involved.
“It allows the chance to meet new people, learn new and transferable skills and be part of a team that helps the whole Armed Forces family and promotes understanding of Remembrance.”
The legion is looking for enthusiastic people of all ages and backgrounds to join in. Volunteer Rob Groom, 27, who has been the legion’s Poppy Appeal organiser for Upton-by-Chester for five years, manages 15 volunteers and together they deliver poppy tins to local businesses and schools and collect at supermarkets and on high streets.
The father-of-two said: “I have been involved with the Poppy Appeal for as long as I can remember, as I helped out when I was in the Cubs and Scouts.
“I don’t have a forces background but my grandfather served in the Second World War and was held as a prisoner of war in the Middle East for three years, so I do this for him and for all those who served.
“It’s a great role and you meet some fantastic people. My two-year-old son Lewis will be joining me to distribute poppies this year and I hope more people will also join our team to help us raise as much money as possible.”
Jenny Sheriff, head of community fundraising at the legion, said: “Across the UK around 350,000 volunteers support the Poppy Appeal every year. Together they raise in excess of £40m so it’s vital that we have their support.
“They are the lifeblood of the Poppy Appeal and contribute enormously to the charity year-round through a variety of roles.”
Volunteers do not need to have a military background and any age can volunteer for the legion, although if they are under the age of 16 they will need to be accompanied by an adult. To find out more, contact Ruth Jones on 07768 238875.