Royal British Legion wants record result from Poppy Appeal to help troops
ORGANISERS of this year's Poppy Appeal are aiming for a record haul of more than £500,000.
The North Staffordshire branch of the Royal British Legion (RBL) beat all its previous records last year, when volunteers collected £466,892.
This year's appeal was launched nationally at Trafalgar Square yesterday, but in North Staffordshire poppies go on sale today, following a launch event at Clayton Wood, Stoke City's training ground.
All the cash raised will be used to support servicemen and women and their families.
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Funds can be used to provide wounded soldiers with home improvements, to give financial support to struggling ex-servicemen, or the Legion can even help with grief support for bereaved families.
RAF reservist Mike Stubbs, aged 38, of Tunstall, the new community fund-raiser for North Staffordshire Royal British Legion, said: "All money raised will go towards providing vital support for the Armed Forces and their families, so we're urging everyone to get involved and raise as much as they can.
"Nationally, the target is to break the £42 million barrier, after we broke the £40 million barrier for the first time last year.
"Locally, I've set a target of £500,000, which is not going to be easy.
Mr Stubbs added: "Battlefield medicine is amazing now. More people are surviving injuries and returning home.
"We stand side by side with the forces. We are there to help injured servicemen or women. But we are not just there for them, this year we particularly want to emphasise the work we do for families."
The Poppy Appeal is the UK's largest appeal in support of the Armed Forces.
Nationally, the Legion spends more than £1.7 million on helping serving and ex-serving members of the Armed Forces and their families by answering more than 165,000 calls for assistance each year.
And with Government plans to cut 20,000 troops from the Army by 2018, – which also includes the removal of the Staffordshire Regiment from the Order of Battle – the Legion believes its greatest challenge is still to come.
Veteran Bob Lacey, aged 69, of Gnosall, chairman of the North Staffordshire Royal British Legion, said: "Last year was a special year for us, 90 years since the Legion was formed and we are still doing the same job.
"Now we have got the Afghanistan generation. When we fought we knew where the enemy was and they wore a uniform.
"Now they have got to watch every step they take and they don't know who the enemy is. People are coming back without an arm or a leg and their life is completely changed."
The Legion is looking for volunteers to sell poppies. Anyone who can help is asked to call Mike Stubbs on 07833 480155.