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POPPY APPEAL: ‘Everyone must buy a poppy for troops’
THE work of the Poppy Appeal is more important than ever, according to a Second World War gunner from Oxford.
Jim Lewendon has been a poppy collector for almost 40 years, having served in the armed forces himself.
Last year the people of Oxfordshire donated almost £500,000 and this year the Royal British Legion hopes to boost it by 10 per cent to £540,000 this year.
Mr Lewendon, 83, is encouraging everyone to do their bit to help the Poppy Appeal in 2012.
He said: “I have been with the Royal British Legion for many years.
“As well as being in my second term as county chairman I have also been extremely privileged to have been a welfare case worker for 36 years.”
Mr Lewendon added: “Whether you can give just a few pence, or a lot, the Poppy Appeal is vitally important and I would urge everyone to buy a poppy this year.”
As the total number of British war dead in Afghanistan pushes relentlessly towards 500 and a procession of young men and women’s bodies are carried through our streets on an almost weekly basis, the work of the Royal British Legion in helping to support our troops matters more than ever.
Mr Lewendon is also a proud member of the Headley Way ‘guard of honour’ that stands in all weathers to greet the repatriated dead.
From helping people who fought in Flanders Fields or the bomb-infested streets of Afghanistan, the work of the Royal British Legion is as essential as ever, Mr Lewendon believes.
He said: “As well as seeing the generosity of the people of Oxford, as they routinely push pound coins and even notes into my poppy collecting tin, I also have the pleasure of seeing at first-hand how their money goes on to help current and former service personnel and their families.”
Mr Lewendon added: “From helping service people to buy mobility scooters and stair lifts, to meeting their housing costs, giving them and their children holidays, or just the information they need to make the transition from the Forces to civilian life, the money from the Poppy Appeal helps the Royal British Legion make a world of difference to many people.”
To make a donation call 0845 845 1945 or visit britishlegion.org.uk
£90M PACKAGE FOR HEALTH AND WELFARE
THE RBL spent £90 million last year on health and welfare for the Armed Forces community – £1.7m every week.
It committed £50 million over 10 years to help serving men and women who are wounded, injured or sick through the Battle Back Centre, an adaptive sports facility in Shropshire and to fund the operating costs of four Personnel Recovery Centres in the UK and a Personnel Recovery Unit in Germany.
It spent £20 million in 2011 running its care homes and break centres.
Last year it helped 18,000 veterans and their families with immediate needs grants and helped more than 11,000 individuals with benefit and money advice, 25 per cent of whom were serving personnel.
Last year its Independent Inquest Advice Service supported 110 bereaved relatives through the coroner’s inquest.
Some 8,000 people received a break, including ‘bucket and spade’ holidays and adventure trips for service children.
The RBL’s Benefits and Money Advice made its average customer £3,000 better off.
Its pioneering Be the Boss scheme has provided nearly 3,000 service leavers with the tools to expand or set up their own business.
The Legion has recently funded a 50-seat, state-of-the-art cinema and entertainment centre for injured service personnel at the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre (DMRC) at Headley Court to help them recuperate.
New initiatives for 2012 and onwards include The Royal British Legion Admiral Nurse Service, in partnership with Dementia UK to improve the quality of life for people with dementia by supporting those who care for them.
It is investing £5 million into ‘blast-injury’ research at Imperial College London to combat the devastating effects of roadside bombs and IEDs.
OTHER charities offering help:
Help for Heroes
The British Limbless ex-Servicemen’s Association (BLESMA) supports servicemen and women who lose limbs, the use of limbs or eyes or the sight of an eye in the service of their country.
The charity’s work starts with rehabilitation and involves shared experience, life-long welfare support, and campaigning.
Jerome Church, General Secretary of BLESMA, said: “We have had a long and fruitful relationship with the Royal British Legion for over 80 years.
“The Legion has always worked closely with us and we with them.
“They have resources we don’t, but we have expertise in areas such as prosthetics and the daily business of living with amputation. We are a good team.
“The Poppy Appeal is at the centre of public life of this country and, as ever, we will be guests of the Royal British Legion as we march past the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday wearing the poppy that is a symbol of real meaning – for us all.”
Call 020 8590 1124 or visit blesma.org
The Army Benevolent Fund provides financial support and practical advice to soldiers, former soldiers and their families in times of need.
Call 0845 241 4820 or visit soldierscharity.org
The charity Combat Stress provides a dedicated service for veterans including a 24-hour helpline, a community outreach service and a variety of rehabilitation programmes.
Call 01372 587 000 or visit combatstress.org
The Army Families Federation (AFF) is the independent voice of Army families and works hard to improve the quality of life for Army families around the world. The charity is often pivotal in achieving improvements for Army families such as changes to Government and military policy. For details of your regional co-ordinator, visit aff.org.uk
The Not Forgotten Association is a unique national tri-service charity which provides entertainment, leisure and recreation for the serving wounded, injured or sick and for ex-service men and women with disabilities. Call 0207 730 0020 or visit nfassociation.org