Community ‘digging deep’ to support Poppy Appeal

WOKING is “digging deep” to support this year’s Poppy Appeal as the Royal British Legion’s iconic campaign battles back from the pandemic restrictions of 12 months ago.

On the hundredth anniversary of the launch of the annual fundraising appeal, John Stocker, the Woking Poppy Appeal organiser, believes that donations are quickly rebounding to pre-COVID levels.

PUTTING THE FLAGS OUT – From left, John, Jay, the Mayor of Woking, Cllr Liam Lyons, Julie and Derrick on duty in the Poppy Shop

“The initial figures show the public are indeed digging deep in their pockets to ensure our collections will be successful,” Mr Stocker said.

“Donations as they stand early this week are on a par with where I would expect them to be in a normal year.

“We have collected about £15,000 just from Woking town centre, with more to add to the total from collectors just outside that, for example Morrison’s.

GOOD CAUSE – Explorer Scouts, from left, Edward, Tristian, Matthew, Jason and Paul at Waitrose in Goldsworth Park, where they raised almost £750

“Our collectors have been at the heart of the Poppy Appeal in local communities for more than 100 years, and thanks to the help from the News & Mail we’re almost fully staffed.

“Last year, of course, we couldn’t have face-to-face collections, but now we have 45 collectors, plus we’ve had some wonderful assistance from the Scouts, Beavers and police cadets.

“One group of Explorer Scouts raised £743 from outside Waitrose in Goldsworth Park, a marvellous effort. The younger people have really stepped up this year.”

The centrepiece of the appeal in the town centre is the Poppy Shop set up in the former Patisserie Valerie premises in Wolsey Walk, and visited by the Mayor of Woking, Cllr Liam Lyons, last Saturday.

“Given where we were with the pandemic restrictions this time last year, and the difficulties that presented to the Royal British Legion’s traditional methods of collecting funds at this time of year, it is really encouraging to see people collecting for this long-established and very worthwhile charity again this year, and of course to see people digging deep and donating money to support veterans and their families who face difficult times,” Cllr Lyons said.

PLEASE GIVE GENEROUSLY – Robin makes his point with a collection tin and tray of poppies

“The Royal British Legion was originally founded to support veterans of the First World War, but has evolved to continue to support veterans of many conflicts since. As we look towards Remembrance Sunday, it is an opportunity to pause and consider the sacrifices made by so many over the years, to ensure our continued freedom and safety.”

Mr Stocker went on: “We have had great interest with people coming in for poppies, and among all that the most extraordinary thing happened.

“A lady working in Woking brought in a truly magnificent quilt, quite unsolicited, telling the story of Remembrance. All she suggested was that we sell the quilt when we had to dismantle the shop after Sunday, not to take less than £65 for it, and for the proceeds of the sale to go to the Poppy Appeal.”

The quilt was put together by Kerry Newman, who works at Dante’s Barber Lounge in Church Path.

IMAGES OF REMEMBRANCE – The quilt, with its timeless message, made and donated by Kerry Newman

“I’d made a similar one for my husband Gary, who’d been in the Grenadier Guards for 22 years,” Kerry said. “He loved it, so I thought it might be a good idea to do one for the Poppy Appeal.

“The quilt is built up on layers of cotton and wadding, then I hand-stitched the border to bring it all together.

“I’ve been doing quilting for about five years now, so it only took me about an evening to do.

“It’s quite unusual because the images are British. I go to a lot of quilting shows and most of the images now are American, so I thought I’d better grab it while I saw it.

“I’ve got another one planned for next year, the image of a lone soldier with verses, but in the meantime I hope that this one sells well.”

Outlining the details of the auction for the quilt, which is on display in the Poppy Shop, Mr Stocker said: “We are asking for sealed bids above £65 to be delivered to the Poppy Shop or to be lodged using our email address  wokingpoppyappeal@gmail.com. The deadline for bids is noon on Sunday 14 November, after the Remembrance service.”

Sunday Remembrance Services:

Bisley Parade and Service:

Bisley War Memorial

10.45am

Church Lane closed to traffic between junction with School Close and junction with A322 Guildford Road at Hen & Chickens roundabout (10am-11.30am)

Byfleet Parade and Service:

Village War Memorial

High Road, Byfleet

10.50am

Parade assembles at Byfleet Village Hall car park at 10.30am

Woking Parade and Service:

War Memorial

Jubilee Square, Woking

10.35am

March past at conclusion of service

Road closure in Church Street East from 8am until noon

Chobham Parade and Service:

St Lawrence Church

High Street, Chobham

3pm

Parade forms up in the public car park behind Chobham Rider at 2.45pm and marches to St. Lawrence Church. After service and collection, returns to War Memorial for Last Post, Exhortation, two-minutes’ silence and laying of wreaths

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