EAST Lancashire residents were today urged not to let coronavirus restrictions stop them wearing their poppies with pride.
As the Royal British Legion launched its annual appeal for money to support ex-service personnel, Blackburn with Darwen’s armed forces champion Cllr John Slater joined county organisers to call on people to back it in both traditional and new ways.
They said the Poppy Appeal was more important than ever during the Covid-19 pandemic with restrictions leaving many former service men and woman isolated.
Cllr Slater, an ex-Royal Navy diver, said: “I am asking everyone in East Lancashire, in this time of Covid-19, to support the ‘Every Poppy Counts’ campaign to help our current and past service men and women. As a British Legion ambassador I can see what a tremendous amount of work and effort goes into the work they do.
“Please show your support by wearing your poppy with pride especially this year when many former service personnel are left isolated by coronavirus.”
The legion’s Community Fundraiser for Lancashire, Alan Whitmore, said: “Like so many things this year, the appeal has to adapt to the threat of Covid-19 and we are asking the public to support us like never before.
“With many ex-service personnel now isolated and left unable to access many of their normal support services by coronavirus restrictions, the support the legion gives is more important than ever this year.
“People may have to do something different this year, including taking part in remote activity like ordering poppies through the post for your neighbours, printing a poppy and displaying it in your window, or undertaking a virtual ‘Poppy Run’. We are asking people to please support in any way they can.”
Supporting the Lancashire launch is 31-year-old ex-soldier Anthony Cooper from Chorley, who lost both legs in a Taliban roadside bombing in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, in July 2010 and was told he would never walk or talk again.
He said: “I can’t remember anything after the explosion. The improvised explosive device was 45 kilos, designed to blow up a truck, but I stepped on it and the Taliban detonated it. I lost both legs below the knee, two fingers on my left hand, the fingertips on my right hand, the pupil in my right eye blew up and I suffered what the medic described as the worst blast brain injury in 25 years.”
The legion helped pay for adaptations to his house.
The Royal British Legion’s area manager for Lancashire, Alison Bunn, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has had an overwhelming impact on people’s livelihoods and way of life, leaving some in the armed forces community in dire need of urgent help and support.
“The Legion’s work is more vital than ever as we support our community through additional hardships from those struggling with social isolation, financial difficulties and unemployment, to those who have lost loved ones or are facing the threat of homelessness.”