WOKING’S Poppy Appeal organiser has turned to local schools and businesses for support as COVID-19 has forced collectors off the street.

“The Royal British Legion’s overriding priority is to keep volunteers safe and respect government guidelines,” said Linda Kemeny, the Poppy Appeal organiser representing RBL Bisley, Knaphill and West End and Woking branches.

“We’ve had to re-think our strategy fundamentally, and we’ve spent a lot time forging close corporate relationships with banks, supermarkets and retailers.

“In our local area the likes of Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Morrisons, for example, are involved and we plan to supply them with poppies, which they will sell and handle the money themselves.

“I’m asking any business or school in Woking which has not yet been contacted and would like a poppy box this year to get in touch.

“I would be happy to hear from them on 07780-721314. I will try to deliver a box and collecting tin.  

“Schools have been especially important,” Linda added. “We’ve been distributing collecting tins to those that want them, although we realise that schools have enough problems of their own at the moment.

“Unfortunately, we won’t have a stand in the town centre, or a shop, which we did last year.”

The coronavirus has dealt a heavy blow to Woking fund-raising efforts, which totalled more than £38,000 in last year’s appeal.

Now, though, much of the Poppy Appeal nationally will be conducted online, with RBL promoting the message Every Poppy Counts.

A range of poppy merchandise is available at www.britishlegion.org.uk, where donations can be made, or  www.rbl.org.uk/poppyappeal. Donations can also be made by phoning 0845-845-1945, or texting Poppy to 70020.

A range of the legion’s products can also be found at www.poppyshop.org.uk.

Poppies can be ordered online free of charge in batches of 20, by completing a form, giving them to family and friends, and asking for a donation to support the Armed Forces’ community.