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Call for help from Bridgwater's poppy collectors
THERE can barely be a person in Bridgwater who does not have a friend or relative who has been involved a conflict past or present.
Each year the Remembrance Day service in King Square is impeccably observed, and the number of young people paying their respects to servicemen and women who have served valiantly for their country continues to grow.
And yet, incredibly, there are just four people organising poppy collections in the Bridgwater area for the Royal British Legion, a charity which spends £90million a year on the welfare of current and former servicemen and women and their families, including 1,200 people living in Somerset and Bristol.
Bob Leithes, who organises the poppy collections around the town, turns 61 on Remembrance Sunday, November 11, and he knows as well as anybody the importance of the Legion’s work.
He served in the Royal Artillery from 1968-84, including in Northern Ireland during the ‘Troubles’.
Bob’s father, uncle and youngest brother all served with the RA, and his eldest son, Darren, is still on active duty, having served more than 20 years with the RA, including in Iraq.
Bob told the Mercury: “When I left the Army, all I had was a council flat. I got in touch with the Legion, and they completely refurbished my flat.
“So when I moved down to Bridgwater I got involved with the Legion and I’ve been helping out ever since.
“What we really need here is somebody to give up a bit of time at the start of the Poppy Appeal, to take boxes and tins out to businesses, and to collect them at the end.”
The Legion’s support ranges from providing holidays at a ‘break centre’ to helping somebody live with a disability.
Sue Potepa, the RBL’s Somerset fundraiser, said: “The need for a Poppy Appeal is increasing each year.
“What a lot of people don’t realise is that if somebody comes back from Afghanistan with a limb missing they need support for the rest of their lives.”
Poppies will be sold until Remembrance Sunday.
Anybody who can spare between two hours and two weeks is urged to call Sue on 01278-442067 or email email@example.com