AS the Royal British Legion marks an important year, a new face is heading up its Oxfordshire fundraising.

Laura Towell has taken on the role of the county’s fund raiser and is planning a host of events over the next 12 months.

But she needs a little help and is appealing for five new Poppy Appeal organisers to assist with the 2014 campaign.

It comes as the running total for Oxfordshire’s 2013 Poppy Appeal topped £431,340, with more expected to be banked in the coming weeks.

The final county total is due to be announced at the end of February.

This year is the centenary of the start of the First World War and the Royal British Legion will stage fundraisers to mark it.

Ms Towell has raised funds for Grimsbury Family Association, Banbury Young Homeless Project and Special and Different Addiction Services, also in Banbury.

She said: “I look forward to working with the Royal British Legion as it’s such a well established charity. It cares for the whole family.

“It’s a very exciting time to be joining in the centenary year of the start of World War One.”

The charity also has a ‘Pathway for Growth’ scheme which aims to make the legion more relevant.

She plans to get out and about and meet with the legion’s army of volunteers over the coming months.

Residents are being urged to hold a Poppy Picnic from June 21 or gather friends and colleagues to take part in a sponsored ‘Honour Walk’. She said: “The legion spends £1.4 million a week on welfare services and we’re hoping the money we raise will go a little way to helping them carry out this vital work.”

It is looking for appeal organisers for 2014 for Arncott and District, Littlemore, Brightwell, Culham and Shennington.

For information or to volunteer call Ms Towell on 07768 252906, visit, or email

FORMER Royal Air Force logistics officer Mark Collins has just been appointed as Oxford’s new area manager for the Royal British Legion.

Born in Buckinghamshire, he joined the RAF as a commissioned catering officer in 1990 and was based at Brize Norton.

His new role will see him helping former servicemen and women get the support they need, from benefits advice to grants.

Last year the team helped about 300 people in Oxford.

Mr Collins said: “The local team is dedicated to providing a wide range of flexible support services, from helping a young widow through an inquest to ensuring that an older veteran can stay independent in their own home.”

“We value the enthusiasm of local members, who undertake a wide range of volunteer roles and fundraising activities for the legion, and encourage anyone who is interested to get involved.”

Ms Towell replaces Laura Laffan, the former face of the Legion’s fundraising team in Oxfordshire.