Royal British Legion

The Royal British Legion is the UK's leading charity providing financial, social and emotional support to millions who have served and are currently serving in the Armed Forces, and their dependants. Currently, nearly 10.5 million people are eligible for our support and we receive thousands of calls for help every year.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Poppy collecting in the rain on a Friday night in Birmingham

The evening looked doomed for disaster on Friday, not only did three of the student volunteers call to say they were unwell but the heavens opened.

Standing in the rain unable to hold an umbrella because of my bucket, lolly poppy and tray of wet poppies I wondered if I should have cancelled the collection.

Two young men in shirts approached me for a poppy. One asked if I could attach the poppy for him because he couldn't do it but I explained that I couldn't. His friend quickly offered to help him. As they walked away I called out 'Thank you for your support' and they came back to me. They said, 'No you're supporting us, we're squaddies and (pointing to his friend said) he's just had his arm blown off in Iraq'

I looked at the man who'd asked me to put his poppy on and sure enough he had an empty sleeve and suddenly I realised that it was worth standing in the rain and cold.

I also got chatting to a female Bouncer on the door of a night club, she proudly showed me a photo on her phone of her boyfriend in Army uniform. She told me how he was suffering since his return back from Iraq and how awful Bonfire Night had been for him with the fireworks . I explained what the British Legion did and she's interested in becoming a caseworker.

We stayed until 11.45pm and my volunteers went away wet and happy feeling that it had all been worth it.

I have no idea how much we raised that night, I'm counting it today but I know our presence on the streets around Broad Street was worthwhile.

Sue Smart

Community Fundraiser - Birmingham


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