The Royal Navy and the Royal British Legion (RBL) joined forces to launch the Devon County Poppy Appeal in Devonport Naval Base in Plymouth. A ceremonial signing of the first formal partnership between the Navy in the South West and the RBL also took place at the event.
To mark the beginning of the annual Devon Poppy Appeal, coinciding with the national Poppy Appeal, a large model poppy was lowered in the custody of an airman from a hovering Royal Navy Merlin helicopter from 846 Naval Air Squadron into the naval base.
The Deputy Lieutenant of Devon, Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope (former First Sea Lord), accepted the poppy from the air crew. He said: “I am here in naval uniform to represent the Lord Lieutenant and all the military in the county and the civilians who benefit from the fantastic work of the legion. The country owes the armed forces a huge debt, both to those who made the ultimate sacrifice and those who have been scarred mentally and physically and have on-going needs – all in the service of their country and ensuring our liberty.
“As the custodian of this responsibility of honouring this debt, the legion is launching its Poppy Appeal to fund raise for the provision of services supporting the health and welfare of the serving and veterans of the armed forces and their families. To this end, the partnership between the naval community and the legion will formalise this on-going work.’’
The poppy was transported with Plymouth Lord Mayor, RBL and Navy by small Royal Navy boats decorated with poppies down river to the Naval Heritage Centre in the naval base where the partnership was signed by Commodore Paul Halton (Commander Devonport Flotilla), Commodore Shipperley (Naval Base Commander), Lieutenant Colonel Jon Cresswell (commanding officer of 29 Commando) and Susanne Archard (Area manager Devon & Cornwall RBL).
Commodore Ian Shipperley, said: “This partnership formalises the existing close relationship between the RBL and the naval community and other military in the area. This will strengthen the way we work together and help raise awareness of the work of the RBL, supporting fund-raising and services. An important role is promoting the work and showing how important it is to the beneficiaries, sometimes for the rest of their lives.’’
Carole Arnold, of Devon County Royal British Legion, said: “This year we want to encourage the public not only to remember those who served in the First and Second World Wars, but also remember the sacrifices made by other generations of the Armed Forces.
‘’The Legion is there throughout our beneficiaries’ entire lives to help them with cash in a crisis, recovery after injury or illness, moving on after the military, and ensuring they are not disadvantaged because of their service. The RBL’s vital work is entirely dependent on the public’s generous support – so please wear your poppy with pride, knowing that you are helping the Armed Forces community to live on.‘’
The red poppy is a universal symbol of Remembrance and hope – hope for RBL beneficiaries to overcome their difficulties and hope for a peaceful world. As a result of the public’s support in the last year, the Royal British Legion answered more than 780,000 bids for help from the armed forces community.
The Devon Poppy Appeal will remember the Battle of Jutland centenary this year because of its relevance to Plymouth and the Royal Navy. A Jutland 100 exhibition will feature at the Naval Heritage Centre.
846 Naval Air Squadron one of two frontline squadrons forming part of the Royal Navy’s Commando Helicopter Force (CHF). From Royal Naval Aitr Station Yeovilton.
The partnership formally recognises and enhances the Royal Navy’s (Devonport ships and submarines, 3Commando Brigade and Devonport naval Base) support for the RBL’s objectives.