Remembrance

Prince Charles and Camilla launch Royal British Legion's centenary Poppy Appeal

The Royal couple were joined by 10 collectors to mark the 10 decades of the forces fundraising appeal.

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall have met community collectors to launch the Royal British Legion's 2021 Poppy Appeal.

This year, the RBL charity celebrated its centenary and to mark the return of its collectors to local communities, it is encouraging the public to find their local collector to donate.

Prince Charles and Camila met a group of 10 collectors at Clarence House to launch the appeal.

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In a joint statement, the pair said they "warmly welcome the return of Poppy Appeal collectors to our communities".

"The significance of the poppy is as relevant today as it ever was, while our Armed Forces continue to be engaged in operations overseas and often in the most demanding of circumstances," they said.

"The simple act of wearing a poppy is only made possible because of volunteer Poppy Appeal collectors who share a common goal – to recognise the unique contribution of the Armed Forces community."

The RBL's volunteer collectors have been at the heart of the Poppy Appeal in local communities for more than 100 years.

Each of the 10 collectors who met Prince Charles and Camilla represents a decade from RBL history. 

Andy Taylor-Whyte, of the Royal British Legion, told Forces News, the charity is "celebrating this year because… it's time to get back out on the streets again".

"It's our 100th year, we are celebrating the generations of people that have really helped us," he said.

And Mr Taylor-Whyte said the charity is "absolutely honoured and privileged" to launch this year's appeal with the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall.

Lance Corporal Ashley Martin, the only serving member of the Armed Forces among the collectors, told Forces News "it was an honour to be invited" to meet the Royal couple.

Watch: Queen attends Royal British Legion centenary service earlier this month.

He added the pair were "really interested in fundraising".

COVID-19 restrictions in 2020 forced the charity to cancel all face-to-face fundraising efforts for the first time in its history.

Mr Taylor-Whyte said the coronavirus pandemic forced the charity to "stop all face-to-face fundraising and, like many charities", the RBL "suffered a little bit from that".

“But the great news is we're back, we're back this year with 40,000 volunteers out there and our message is please, go and find your local collectors," he said.

And LCpl Martin said it is "amazing to be back this year".

"COVID-19 hit pretty hard with fundraising last year. There was only about four days that we were able to actually do face-to-face fundraising," he said.

"So this year, now that we can go back out, especially with London Poppy Day coming up as well, it's going to be a great year for the Royal British Legion."

Another collector among the 10 to meet Prince Charles and Camilla was 95-year-old Jill Gladwell, who started collecting during the Second World War.

Now, five generations of her family are involved in collecting for the Poppy Appeal, and Ms Gladwell said she is "excited to be back collecting again" with "the support" of Charles and Camilla.

"It's likely to be my last year collecting as I hand it over to my family, so I hope lots of people come and find me to donate," she said.

"I saw first-hand the effects of the Second World War and know how important it is to continue helping the Armed Forces community who sacrifice so much."