The 2021 Poppy Appeal has launched locally today in Northern Ireland and this year, as the charity marks its centenary, the RBL is celebrating the return of its collectors, who have been helping the Royal British Legion to fundraise for over a century.
To mark the launch of the Poppy Appeal nationwide, the Royal British Legion is shining a spotlight on the people of all generations and backgrounds who have been at the heart of the Poppy Appeal in local communities for over 100 years.
After Covid-19 restrictions led the charity to cancel most face-to-face fundraising for the first time in its history in 2020, this year 40,000 Poppy Appeal volunteers are back out in force, raising vital funds to support the work of the RBL.
Helping to launch the Appeal in Northern Ireland are Helen Heaney, her daughter Jackie Heaney, granddaughter and grandson Holly and Aaron Adair – three generations of avid poppy collectors from the same Co. Antrim family.
Helen (74) has been volunteering for the Poppy Appeal for 20 years and has been the Poppy Appeal Organiser for the Royal British Legion Bushmills Branch for the past 15 years.
Jackie (44) first started supporting the Poppy Appeal when she went out collecting along with her mum and dad. Holly (19) and Aaron (13) are also following in the family footsteps. Holly is a member of the Royal British Legion, and Aaron hopes to be some day too, having started at a young age – at just 13 years old, he has already been collecting for the Appeal for almost eight years.
Kate Green, RBL Ireland Area Manager, said: “This year, as we mark our centenary, we are proud to be celebrating the outstanding contribution of all our Poppy Appeal collectors. Every poppy counts, which is why getting our Poppy Appeal collectors back out in local communities is so important. As the impact of Covid-19 continues to leave some members of the Armed Forces community in urgent need of our help, your support is as crucial as ever.
“We cannot help them without you which is why we are urging the public to look out for their local collector and donate. Your contribution will make a real difference to the lives of those in our Armed Forces community who have given so much.
“The RBL was formed in the aftermath of the First World War to fight for the rights of those who had given so much and come back to so little. Today, we continue to stand with the Armed Forces community, supporting them in the face of hardships, injuries and bereavements.”
Helen Heaney said: “I support the Poppy Appeal because I think it’s our duty to support all those who put their lives on the line for our freedom and the freedoms of future generations. It means even more to me now that I’ve visited quite a few of the wartime battlefields, such as the Somme, and have witnessed the young ages of all the men and women lying in those cemeteries.
“I do it because it’s important to remember all those who didn’t make it back from previous conflicts, but also to help those who did return but haven’t found it easy.”
On being a poppy collector, Holly Adair said: “I think every poppy counts, because the poppies we wear help us to remember the fallen men and women who gave their lives so that we could live freely.”
And Aaron agrees: “To me, every poppy counts because the money raised by the Poppy Appeal helps to support all those who fought for our country, and who are in need of our help today.”
The Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal takes place this year from 28 October until 13 November. Donations raised during this vital fundraising period are used to provide life-long support to serving and ex-serving members of the British Armed Forces, their families, and dependants.
The RBL uses donations in many ways including providing crisis grants, sport and art-based recovery programmes, specialist dementia care, and support with benefit and money issues.