Poppy army raises £27k

09:23 23 October 2012

Poppy field

Poppy field

Archant

A record £27,473 has been raised by the Exmouth poppy appeal over the last year, ahead of this year’s Remembrance and Armistice Day commemorations.

The cash, which has quadrupled in Exmouth over just 14 years, will help towards helping forces veterans and their families.

In 1998, £4,500 was raised – accounting for inflation that is worth about £6,435 in today’s money.

The money has contributed to £1million being raised for the first time by the county’s 180 poppy appeal organisers and their army of volunteers.

The news comes ahead of this year’s new poppy appeal.

Every year the Devon branch of the Royal British Legion helps thousands throughout the county, by spending around £1million on welfare.

However, the income from the poppy appeal in Devon averages around £765,000, a shortfall which is made up by the legion’s membership subs.

But, despite the ongoing economic downturn, members of the public have dug deeper than ever before.

Exmouth’s poppy appeal organiser Tom Harvey-May, who stands down after 14 years in the role in favour of Brixington organiser Jill Smart said: “In Exmouth, the amount is about four per cent, up from last year and for the first time we have spent as much as the poppy appeal spends.

“We can pay for ourselves for the first time.

“The number of amputees (as a result of conflicts) goes up year after year and we (the RBL nationally) are dealing with 1,000 requests a day for help.”

He said that he felt that the generosity of the public was because ‘civilians’ were more aware of the needs of the injured than ever before.

“I’m sure that the Paralympics helped make people more aware, a lot of ex-forces veterans competed.

“To see people with limbs missing but still retaining their fitness was inspirational.”

He praised the army of volunteer poppy collectors, but he said their ranks were dwindling.

“This year I’m worried we haven’t got enough volunteers.

“We are always looking for new people; the collectors are very dedicated but like me we are getting a bit long in the tooth and we are limited to what we can do.

“We want to encourage younger people to come forward.”

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