This year, there is even more of a reason to commemorate the 11th November, otherwise known as Armistice Day, with 2014 marking the 100 year anniversary of the First World War. With one of our beautiful and extra special Buckley poppy pieces, not only will you have a meaningful and unique poppy to wear year after year, but you will also be supporting the amazing work done by The Royal British Legion, who support those who have served or who are currently serving, and their families.
Bianca O’Donnell from The Royal British Legion will be our guest for the shows, taking place on 25th October at 7pm, and 1st November at 3pm. Bianca has previously worked with Teenage Cancer Trust, and has been with The Royal British Legion for two and a half years. Her role entails working closely with corporate supporters of the Legion, ensuring opportunities to raise vital funds and awareness of the charity are maximised at all times to support the whole Armed Forces community.
Bianca joined us to tell us exactly how buying a poppy can contribute to changing the lives of those affected by worldwide conflicts…
What does your role in The Royal British Legion mean to you?
I have always been a big supporter of the Legion and the amazing work that it does. My father is in the RAF, currently serving in the Falklands, so I understand first hand the importance of the Legion’s work and the impact that it can make to those who have served, their families and those still serving.
What are the ways in which the money raised and donated can help an individual or family, or even a community?
We are the UK’s biggest Armed Forces charity and help the whole community all year round, providing practical, emotional and financial support to all members of the British Armed Forces past and present, and their families. Last year, we spent £84 million on health and welfare. We know that approximately 6.5 million people in the UK are eligible for our support, and each year we answer over 200,000 calls for help. Money raised helps us to provide an extensive list of support services to the whole Armed Forces community for life. Whether it is a short break for a bereaved family, a specialist dementia care unit for ex-service men and women, or our free handyman service, which helps our beneficiaries stay independent in their homes.
The Facts: Over the last year the Legion has:
• Supported 25,000 beneficiaries with immediate need grants of cash, goods or services
• Helped 8,800 people receive a well-deserved break, including seaside holidays for families reunited on R&R, adventure breaks for Service children and breaks for the elderly
• Carried out 20,000 small home repairs for 7,300 beneficiaries to assist independent living through our Poppy Calls service
• Opened six residential care homes for the elderly – two care homes with specialist Dementia Units, and one more planned this year
• Launched Admiral Nurse Service in partnership with Dementia UK to support carers
• Provided online support and information to over 70,000 people through the Legion’s employment advice service, Civvy Street
• Ensured 589 people received Employment Grants totalling £748,990 through the Civvy Street programme
Each week the legion spends £1.4m providing health and welfare services for the Armed Forces community, past and present. None of this would be possible without the ongoing generous support from those who share a passion for our cause.
If we do one thing this year for charity, in your opinion, what should it be?
Buy a poppy and wear it with pride. There are many other ways to show your support this year and the sparkly brooches are just one.
Is there a particular story that sticks in your mind of how the legion fundraising has helped an individual?
Double-leg amputee Sapper Clive Smith of 33 Engineer Regiment in the Army was injured in an IED incident during Operation Herrick 13 in Afghanistan in 2010. He was part of a Royal Engineer Search Team (REST) searching for IEDs when the blast happened, and he spent five days in critical care in the UK before he was well enough to be transferred to Headley Court.
During April 2012, Sapper Smith spent a week involved in adaptive sports and adventure training at the Battle Back Centre, Lilleshall for the recovery of wounded, injured and sick service personnel, where he found activities such as wheelchair basketball, rock climbing and bowling incredibly beneficial in aiding his recovery.
“The ongoing support I’ve received from Battle Back Centre staff and others over the course of my recovery has been invaluable. Taking part in activities like wheelchair basketball, rock climbing and bowling was great fun and really encouraged me to focus on what I could do as opposed to what I couldn’t do after injury. This positive outlook has really helped in all parts of my life. It’s humbling to know that the centre has been created because of the public’s generous support of the Legion, and the Poppy Appeal in particular. Without it, the Legion would not be able to help guys like me, as well as people who have left Service and their families.”
We hope this small insight into the support The Royal British Legion can offer service men and women and their families shows you what a great cause this really is, and inspires you to check out the gorgeous poppy pieces on offer. With this year being the perfect time to invest in a unique and special poppy to wear this November, these designs also make a lovely and thoughtful gift for those who have been affected by conflict, whether in the present day or the past. Show an individual, as well as all those helped by your purchase, that you commend and care about what they’ve been through.
Let’s turn unhappy outcomes of conflict into positive futures, and, as Sapper Smith says, think about what we can do to offer our help and support. See the gorgeous Buckley poppy range online, and don’t miss our shows on 25th October at 7pm, and 1st November at 3pm.