Royal Marines helped begin this year’s annual launch Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal by delivering the first poppy by Offshore Raiding Craft.
The large-scale poppy was presented by the Royal Marines of 1 Assault Squadron to The Lord Lieutenant of Devon and the Devon President of The Royal British Legion – kicking off the 2017/18 Poppy Appeal across the county.
The event, watched by ex and serving military personnel and their families happened at the Royal William Yard and commemorated the 35th anniversary of the Falklands conflict in 1982 which Plymouth and Devonport Naval Base was heavily involved with.
It comes as The Royal British Legion is encouraging people to rethink what Remembrance means.
The poppy and the work of the Legion are often associated with the First and Second World Wars and elderly veterans, however the charity is calling on the public to reconsider what the poppy stands for and wear it in support of the Armed Forces community, past and present.
Carole Arnold, The Royal British Legion’s Community Fundraiser for South Devon, said: “When you wear your poppy this year, we’re asking to you think of all the many and unexpected ways the Legion uses your donation to support the Armed Forces community.
“Veterans, Serving personnel and their families live in communities all across the UK, and the Legion’s work is happening all around you.
“We already recognise the poppy as a symbol of Remembrance but it is also represents hope. The poppy bloomed on the battlefields of northern Europe during the First World War despite the destruction, and it is that life force growing in the most difficult of circumstances that connects the poppy with the message of hope.
“The Legion is that hope, and they are there wherever and whenever they are needed. Every donation received will make a real difference to the lives of Service men and women, veterans and their loved ones.”
Among the invited guests attending the launch will be Commodore Ian Shipperley, Commander of Devonport Naval Base; and up to 50 veterans of the Falklands conflict.
A short service of Remembrance, commemorating those who fell during the Falklands conflict, will follow on the green in the in the Royal William Yard.
Cdre Shipperley said: “The launch of the Poppy Appeal is a major occasion in the Armed Forces diary. It marks the start of a period of Remembrance for everyone; it is not only a time to reflect on the service given by our veterans and those that have fallen during conflicts, but also to remember the dedication and service being given by all of our serving personnel.”
This year the Legion’s fundraising target in Devon is £1million, which will go towards the charity’s national target of £47million to continue its vital work delivering practical, through life care and support to the Armed Forces community.
In the last year the generosity of the British public helped the Legion answer more than 1,077,019 requests for help.
The Legion uses donations to offer support in many ways including providing crisis grants, researching the long lasting impact of blast injuries on the body, lobbying the government on issues that affect our community, sport and art-based recovery programmes and advising on benefits and money problems.
One of the Legion’s beneficiaries is Peter ‘Cliff’ Edge, a serving Weapons Engineer in the Royal Navy.
The Legion assisted Peter by providing a holiday for him and his family after he was diagnosed with cancer (Hodgkins Lymphoma) in March 2013.
Thankfully, following treatment, Peter has now been given the all-clear. He is currently based on Devonport-based frigate, HMS Montrose.
“As a family we are very grateful to the Legion for assisting and supporting us,” said the 47-year-old who lives with his family in Saltash. The Legion is a fantastic service. It’s nice to know that someone is there when you are struggling for whatever reason. People think the Legion is more for the more elderly veterans but it’s actually for everyone.”