AS THE TIME for remembrance draws near, volunteers are out in force around Chichester to honour and support veterans and their families.
Last year’s poppy appeal in the area raised nearly £46,000 – a rise of about a third on the previous year’s total.
The support for the Royal British Legion allows it in turn to help members of the armed forces and their loved ones.
On Saturday in Chichester, a gathering in North Street outside the Council House saw the official launch of the Chichester poppy appeal.
Members of the Chichester branch were joined by the mayor and mayoress John and Cherry Hughes, as well as former army major Phil Packer and Miss Chichester, aka Kim Fletcher.
Over the coming days, volunteers will be selling poppies and collecting donations, with the Chichester branch president Graham Matthews saying their role was more vital than ever.
“We urgently need helpers,” he said. “Anyone can come along and we will make them welcome.”
He said two such ‘wonderful people’ have appeared out of the blue already, with one of the volunteers selling poppies in her lunch break.
The reverend from St Paul’s Church, in Churchside, Simon Holland blessed those launching the appeal on Saturday at 11am.
Mr Matthews said anyone who could spare any time at all could get in touch by emailing email@example.com or calling 01243 823997.
A Remembrance Sunday parade through Chichester takes place on Sunday, November 9.
In North Street on Monday (October 27) helpers included college students, a mother whose son is in the Royal Navy and a former soldier.
Hannah Ainsworth, 17, has helped out the past five years.
“I first got involved because my dad started doing it and he became the poppy appeal organiser,” she said.
She added she learned a lot from the poppy appeal, including how it helped many more people affected by war other than just soldiers.
“I thought it was just for the people that have been serving, but it helps their families as well,” she said.
“It helps raise awareness. We need younger generations (to volunteer) that don’t understand what it’s about.
“It’s nice that we can teach someone from what we’ve learned.”
Hannah and her friend Shannon Coe, 17, both study at Chichester College and were volunteering during their half-term week.
Hannah said soldiers stationed at the Thorney Island barracks are also due to help out this week, which can provide a great boost to fundraisers.
The pair were joined by Wendy Hartley, 56, collecting in North Street.
Wendy’s son is 33 and serving in the Royal Navy.
She said part of the importance of the poppy appeal was about educating people about what others were going through.
“It just helps get awareness out there,” she said.
She came along three years to buy a poppy and got talking. Since then, she’s been volunteering.
“It’s important, because the lads that are coming home from the army that have been wounded and have traumatic stress – they need our help more and more.
“The families need it as well.
“It’s a worrying time when your loved ones are off to war for six months.”
Determined to help
FORMER poppy appeal organiser and double amputee Gary Brammall was out picking up his poppies and collecting tin on Monday.
He moved to Chichester in 1993 and became the main organiser for the poppy appeal in 1999 – a role he held for several years.
“I always try to volunteer ever since I was the organiser to get people out to come and help.
“If they’ve got nothing else to do, come out and help the poppy appeal,” he said.
He was in the army from 1971 to 1993, getting involved with the poppy appeal from 1973.
During his time he was based in all over the world, including Germany, Cyprus and the Falkland Islands. There were also plenty of jobs closer to home.
“Every time the bin men went on strike we were in, fire brigade we were in,” he said.
Poppy appeal concert
A POPPY concert in aid of the Royal British Legion takes place in Chichester on Friday, November 7.
The Littlehampton and Bognor Regis concert bands are combining at St Paul’s Church, in Churchside, at 7.30pm. Adults are £8 and under 18s/students £5.
Tickets are available from firstname.lastname@example.org or on the door from 7pm.
There will be an interval with drinks and a raffle and all proceeds are to go to the poppy appeal.