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Burnham and Highbridge poppy appeal needs YOUR help
7:00am Thursday 11th October 2012 in News
A VETERAN who lost close friends in the Second World War has spoken of his sadness that just a handful of pensioners will be supporting the poppy appeal this year.
The Royal British Legion has made an urgent plea for volunteers before the appeal begins on October 27 with only six people in the Burnham and Highbridge area – all in their 70s or older – available to distribute and collect poppies.
Arthur Gilbert, 91, who served with the RAF ground crew in Sierra Leone for 18 months during the Second World War, said: “I lost a lot of friends.
“We had a big Christmas party with friends in 1939, and by the end of the war the only people left from that party were myself and my brother.
“So many people died so we can live today, and I think that message hasn’t got across to some people, which is such a shame.
“The Poppy Appeal also raises money for the victims of conflicts today, like in Afghanistan, so it’s still very important.”
Maureen Hicks, 79, is the treasurer of the Burnham RBL branch, and her husband, Keith, 73, organises poppy collections in the town.
Maureen said: “Most of us have been in the Legion for years. We like to support it and the wonderful work done from the collections.
“It’s hard work, but we get a lot out of it.
“I’d feel very sad if we couldn’t do as many collections because we didn’t have enough people.”
The RBL spends £90million a year on the welfare of current and former servicemen and women, including 1,200 people living in Somerset and Bristol.
The Legion’s support ranges from providing holidays at a Legion ‘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, November 11.
Anybody who can spare between two hours and two weeks is urged to call Sue on 01278-442067 or email firstname.lastname@example.org