For most of us, we only don a red poppy in the weeks leading up to Remembrance Sunday – but one veteran wears his red poppy all year, every year.

Ashley Martin, a lance corporal in the Royal Army Medical Corps, joined the army in 2015 at 21. During his eight years of service he was deployed in Saudi Arabia for eight-and-a-half months as part of Operation Floridan. 

“For me the poppy is a signature to never forget,” said Ashley. “In 2019 I got it tattooed for a friend I lost.” 

For Ashley, Remembrance Sunday is a time to remember not just the friends he has lost, but the friends who are still here but maybe lost in a different way. 

Ashley began collecting for the Poppy Appeal in 2016 during London Poppy Day, a tradition he’s continued ever since. In 2017, while collecting for the Poppy Appeal outside Baker Street tube station, Ashley’s training saved a man’s life when he collapsed. Ashley provided crucial first aid until the paramedics arrived.

Ashley said: “I love the fact that I can help people in their day-to-day lives. At the end of the day people are people, whether they’re in the military or not, it doesn’t matter who needs help I will do whatever I can if someone’s in need.”

Not only has Ashley supported the Royal British Legion (RBL), it has supported him. In 2018 Ashley found himself going through some financial hardship. He contacted the RBL who gave him some funds which meant he could get food helping him get back on his feet. Ashley wants people to know the funds gathered by the RBL does not just go to veterans but to those currently serving as well. 

After Covid, Ashley noticed that people struggled to give as much as usual, but now he’s noticed that people are giving even more.  

Stationed at ATC Pirbright, Ashley will be attending the service at Pirbright Commonwealth Church.