In the past few years the Church in the UK has supported the national ‘Poppy Appeal’ campaign by the Royal British Legion, which provides ‘lifelong support for the Armed Forces community—serving men and women, veterans, and their families’. In 2015 over 40 stakes were involved with 199 wards and branches, an increase from the previous year, over the Remembrancetide fortnight covering the last week in October and the first week in November. Members donated nearly 10,000 hours. In addition, growing numbers of wards are participating in local Remembrance Day services, with 43 stakes sending representatives and 253 wreaths being laid.
As we approach the fundraising period again, here are a few stories of participation in the Poppy Appeal.
Liverpool Raises £72000 for the Royal British Legion
By Paul Oliver (in collaboration with Christine Bradford, RBL)
Over £72000 was raised through the efforts of Church members in the Liverpool England Stake during the annual Poppy Appeal in November 2015. This represents a little over 10 percent of the money raised in the area.
How? Members of the Warrington Ward contributed over £6000 by staffing a collection point in Sainsbury’s.
Wigan Ward members collected over £13000 in a different Sainsbury’s store.
Liverpool Ward members volunteered to sell poppies in Lime Street Station and raised over £1800.
St Helens Ward members ran the entire Poppy Appeal for their town. They donated 943 hours, distributing-collecting tins and poppies to various businesses and retail outlets, collecting full tins, staffing sales points and counting and banking over £50000. They worked with the local branch of Rotary International, the sea cadet unit, army cadets, service veterans and their wives and other volunteers from within the community.
Behind the bare bones of the statistics lies a story of dedication and commitment.
Adrienne Ellison, who started the Church’s involvement with the Royal British Legion in helping to raise funds for the Poppy Appeal
Shortly after her baptism in 2002, Adrienne Ellison was called to serve as the public affairs specialist for St Helens Ward serving on the stake public affairs council. Inspired by the need to serve her community, Adrienne contacted the local Poppy Appeal organiser to offer her support. After a couple of years of selling poppies on cold, wet November days, she thought that there was something more that could be done. With the blessing of her public affairs director, in 2005 she contacted Christine Bradford, the newly appointed Community Fundraiser for Merseyside and West Lancashire RBL County.
Selling poppies in Lime Street Station and Liverpool city centre became a regular feature of the stake calendar, with several thousand pounds being raised in the process. But it wasn’t enough to satisfy the vision of Beryl Oliver, stake public affairs director at the time. At her suggestion, the matter was raised in the national public affairs council in the autumn of 2012. It would be a simple service project that didn’t need lots of time and organising—just ask members to volunteer to sell poppies in whatever few hours they could give.
Christine explained: “The team of Poppy Appeal stalwarts in St Helens RBL branch and club had been decreasing in number, and the remaining team were suffering more and more from ill health. In 2014 the St Helens Royal British Legion club closed completely after a disastrous fire, leaving six Poppy Appeal team members, none of whom was fully fit. The Church by then had had many years’ experience of fundraising for the Appeal and were well used to organising their own logistics and personnel. Thus Paul Oliver stepped in to become Poppy Appeal organiser St Helens, with Adrienne Ellison as his deputy. This proved to be a catalyst for growth, increasing the St Helens total to £53,749.18 in 2015—a 77 percent increase on the figure for the 2013 Appeal. As St Helens forged this path of Church involvement, so the other towns belonging to the Liverpool stake joined in too—and today we have the involvement of the Warrington, Wigan and Liverpool Church members also as described above.”
Christine commented that working alongside Church members has been a joy. “The qualities of professionalism, reliability, gusto, enthusiasm and optimism have been a tonic,” and she hopes that the relationship will continue for many years.
From a few pounds in a collecting tin in St Helens 14 years ago to over £72000—some oak tree from that acorn!
That little seed planted and nourished by Adrienne in St Helens has now blossomed into the national effort that is respected and valued by Royal British Legion personnel wherever Church members give a few hours here and there.
What a difference one inspired member has made! Well done, Adrienne Ellison! Thank you for your dedication and for inspiring others to work with you to raise money to care for the service veterans who are left in difficult circumstances. And thank you to the members of the Liverpool stake for your hard work and commitment!
Racing for the Poppy Appeal
By Julie Harrald
The May Day bank holiday saw four members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Leicester England Stake raise over £1000 for the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal. The participants donned their running kit and took part in the annual Leicester triathlon—a 400-metre swim, 20-kilometre cycle ride and 5-kilometre run. Each of them turned in an excellent performance and completed the course, securing the sponsorship of family, friends, colleagues and employers for the Poppy Appeal.
Team members prepare for the race (from left to right): Jason Bailey, Angela Bailey, Paul Smith (stake president) and Paul Parsons.
Giles Coleman, the legion’s county fundraiser (CFR) for Leicestershire, came to take publicity photographs and wish the team well. He was delighted with the results and thanked the team, who were wearing running vests provided for them with the Poppy Appeal ‘Live On’ logo.
One of the team was stake president Paul Smith. Another participant, Jason Bailey, was given participant number 118. He turned in an overall time of 1:18—one hour and eighteen minutes—and said he needs participant number 100 next year! His wife, Angela, received the compliments of a race marshall, who commented, “She’s lovely—she has smiled every time she has passed by”. The fourth team member was Paul Parsons, the oldest of the four but keenest participant, with a finishing time similar to much younger rivals and bringing in the highest of the sponsorship totals.
Fundraising for the Poppy Appeal can take place at any time of year, not just during the two-week collection period in November. If you would like to race for the Poppy Appeal, contact the Royal British Legion CFR for your county.
Poppy Appeal Scotland
By Margo McClumpha
Throughout Scotland, individuals and groups were gathered together to remember the fallen veterans from both world wars and also those who had fallen in other conflicts around the world. Three women on Remembrance Day unknown to each other had something in common that they shared. Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, laid her first wreath as the First Minister at the Stone of Remembrance at Edinburgh’s City Chambers. Margo McClumpha also laid her first wreath on behalf of the Edinburgh Scotland Stake at the Stone of Remembrance. Hannah Caddell, a young woman, laid her first wreath on behalf of the Livingston Ward at the Livingston Civic Centre. In doing so, they demonstrated that the final sacrifices of men and women in war were not in vain. All three women recognised that their freedom was paid for by the deaths of so many in past and current wars.
Each year, Helen Duff from the Dumfries Ward participates in the Poppy Appeal by selling poppies to the public and Church members. Helen’s late husband, James, served in the army, and both were aware of the importance of the annual Poppy Appeal. Billie Bell, another member of the Dumfries Ward, supports the Royal British Legion by helping in their shop during the Poppy Appeal.
From left to right: Brother McClumpha, Nicola Sturgeon (Scotland’s First Minister), and Margo McClumpha at the Remembrance Day service in Edinburgh
Andrew Coltart, a member of the Livingston Ward and also a military history buff, was brought up hearing stories about family members who had fought in two world wars. His family taught him as a child the importance of wearing a poppy, and he has continued to wear one every year. His family history includes a great uncle who was a prisoner of war during WWII and was liberated by the Chinese army. His family’s military connections extend as far back as the Crimean War and the Indian Mutiny and to the present day. His military knowledge has enabled him to understand in greater detail what his ancestors faced as they prepared for battle.
Keith Oliphant, another Poppy Appeal volunteer and member of the Livingston Ward, shares the same enthusiasm as Andrew. Both men realize that veterans are getting older and they need the support of younger men and women in continuing the mandate of the annual Poppy Appeal.
The sum total of volunteer hours donated by members of the Livingston Ward towards the 2015 Poppy Appeal was 100 hours. Their commitment to the Poppy Appeal and the sale of items for the Royal British Legion Scotland (RBLS) amounted to £5,500. The majority of that figure would probably be from RBLS items from their shop. Over the years, many friendships have been formed and remained steadfast as Church volunteers meet annually with volunteers from the Royal British Legion Scotland. These volunteers are focused on a common goal, to support the Poppy Appeal and the Royal British Legion Scotland.