9 December 2023
Salisbury Radio Poppy Appeal

Stalag Luft prisoner to launch Salisbury’s RBL Poppy Appeal

The Salisbury Branch of the Royal British Legion (RBL) will be launching its Poppy Appeal next Saturday.

The event in the Market Square on Saturday 28th October 2023 starts at 9:45am.   

Organisers told Salisbury Radio that “Everyone is invited to attend and see the presentation of poppies to the Vice Lord Lieutenant of Wiltshire (VLL) and the Mayor of Salisbury”

This year they say they are honoured to have Ron Collins as their guest of honour to present the first poppy to the VLL. 

Ron will be celebrating his 102nd birthday on 25th October – an anniversary he uniquely shares with the Poppy Appeal itself, which also started in 1921. 

Ron is a Second World War veteran after joining the RAF in 1942 as a Radar mechanic. Unfortunately he was captured at the Battle of Leros in 1943.  He was then incarcerated in Stalag Luft 1 as a prisoner of war until the end of the war in 1945. 

Ron went on to serve a full career in the Army in the REME.

As the UK’s biggest Armed Forces Charity, the RBL continues to distribute the proceeds of the Poppy Appeal to current and former Service Personnel who are in need.  In the year to September 2022, people in the Armed Forces community in Wiltshire have received more than 300 grants from the RBL, totalling more than £250,000 to help with everything from housing, the cost of living, help with their mobility and getting back to work.

This year’s Remembrance poppy has been given a make-over and will now be completely plastic-free and easily recycled. The new poppies will be sold alongside stock of the original poppy.  

Bob Barwick, Vice President of the Salisbury Branch of the Royal British Legion said, “We are delighted that Ron Collins is joining us as our Guest of Honour to launch this years appeal. 

“He is a force of nature who epitomises all the special qualities of his generation. His amazing Service over many decades reminds us all of the special debt we owe to our Armed Forces past and present”.

Bob added, “This year we have marked both the 70th anniversary of the Armistice at the end of the Korean War (1953) and the end of the Falklands War (1982). 

“Although media focus has been on recent operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, these older campaigns remind us of the ongoing need to help Veterans from across all the generations”.

The  dedicated band of RBL volunteers have been busy and have distributed collection boxes and poppies to businesses, schools and supermarkets across the city and they invite everyone to show their support by proudly wearing a poppy during this years’ Appeal – between 28 Oct and the 12th Nov.

The Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal was first held in the aftermath of the First World War in 1921, where red silk poppies were sold, raising over £106,000.  

Today the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal is the charity’s biggest fundraising campaign and takes place every year in the run up to Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday. 

Written by
David Harber
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Written by David Harber