Legion of support for Buxton poppy appeal

Poppy appeal, Buxton organiser Alan Smith with Lucy Grovesnor
Poppy appeal, Buxton organiser Alan Smith with Lucy Grovesnor

The outbreak of the First World War was 101 years ago, but people of all generations still choose to wear a poppy and remember soldiers from conflicts over the last century.

Alan Smith has been the poppy organiser for Buxton for four years and this year wants to smash last year’s target of £33,000.

Poppy appeal, collection box

Poppy appeal, collection box

The 76-year-old, of Cross Street, Fairfield, said: “I think everyone should take the time to wear a poppy and remember the sacrifices others have made for us.”

On his 18th birthday Alan started in the Royal Air Force and served for five years, between 1957 and 1962; half of the time in the UK and the other half in Singapore.

After leaving the RAF he joined Buxton’s Air Training Corp where he spent 43 years training cadets.

“Getting young people involved with the poppy appeal is so important,” said Alan.

Poppy appeal, crosses decoratred with regimental badges

Poppy appeal, crosses decoratred with regimental badges

“The older folk aren’t getting any younger and we need people to step up and help carry on the legacy of the soldiers.”

Organising the appeal is a big job and as soon as the boxes are collected in from 300 locations across the town at the end of November Alan is already preparing himself for the next year’s appeal.

“It’s not just two weeks in November that I’m working, I have to stock take and order supplies as well as enlist volunteers to help sell the poppies at manned stalls, and that takes time so I like to start early.”

To make the selling of poppies go smoothly Alan estimates that he needs around 96 volunteers prepared to give up a couple of hours of their time to cover all the outlets, which include The Springs Shopping Centre, Morrisons and TSB.

“The public are great supporters of the poppy appeal. Last year we were very busy as it was the First World War centenary and this year looks like it is going in the same way.”
As well as the traditional paper poppies the Royal British Legion has extended its range to include wristbands and zip reflectors.

“I think the extra items are great. It gets the younger ones interested and asking questions about Remembrance Day and I love ordering the new stuff and seeing how it will be received.”

About the Royal British Legion

The Legion was founded by veterans after the First World War on May 15, 1921. A century on from the start of that conflict, it is still helping today’s servicemen and women, veterans, and their families in almost every aspect of daily life.

The charity champions remembrance, safeguarding the memory of those who have given their lives for our freedom through remembrance education and events.

Members of the Royal Navy, British Army, Royal Air Force, reservists, veterans and their families are helped all year round and the Legion campaign to improve their lives, organise the Poppy Appeal and remember the fallen.

By the time of the Legion’s formation in 1921, the tradition of an annual two-minute silence in memory of the dead had been established. The first-ever Poppy Appeal was held that year, with the first Poppy Day on November 11, 1921, and it was granted royal status in 1971.