After months of planning and preparation, two Legion colleagues and a diverse host of volunteers kicked off the first ever Leeds Poppy Day on Thursday 5 November 2015.
Community Fundraisers Debbie Westlake and Danielle Neighbour began months earlier by asking Leeds businesses if they wanted to help out on the inaugural Leeds Poppy Day. The response was overwhelming with 10 businesses offering volunteers and office space. A few special guests got involved to show their support too – Emmerdale actress Emma Atkins and Yorkshire Carnegie rugby players.
"It was amazing how many people were willing to give up their time."Danielle Neighbour, Community Fundraising Manager
Also on board were more than 70 military personnel, including a coach-full of Service men and women from Catterick Garrison plus army reservists from Carlton Barracks in Leeds.
"They all arrived at the event in uniform and having them there really reinforced the message that the Legion isn't just about Remembrance, it's about the future of the living and today's Service men and women," says Debbie. "It also made many of the young soldiers more aware of the work that we do and how we could help them in the future."
The day began at 6.30am with collections at the train station to catch all the commuters. Five teams were positioned at different places across the city throughout the day, as well as two teams on the special Poppy Day bus, stopping at various places around the city including all the offices of the volunteer companies and The Royal Armouries.
"The big red bus was there to help move around some of the soldiers, volunteers and our special guests,” Danielle explains. "You certainly couldn't miss us!"
“Leeds City Council were brilliant when it came to planning the route and finding places to park the bus as well as many other aspects of the day – we couldn't have done it without their support."
On the day itself another source of help came from the team at the Leeds Pop In Centre. As well as a Legion Pop Up Shop selling Poppy Shop merchandise, they created a beautiful Tree of Remembrance.
All of this incredible work and support amounted to a very impressive total at the end of an exhausting but incredible day - £13,500, plus a further £3,500 in sponsorship.
"Everyone was thrilled with the result – not just the money raised but the great partnerships we established with local businesses as well as the awareness created with all the media coverage,” said Danielle.
“For any other city considering organising a Poppy Day, I would say go for it because it was wonderful to see how many volunteers got involved. That's what made the day really - having so many people excited and enthused."
"It's great to be part of an organisation that people want to get behind and support."Danielle Neighbour, Community Fundraising Manager
A special thank you to the corporate partners who supported the Leeds Poppy Day: Architecture 519, WYG, FDM, DLA Piper, KPMG, Eversheds, Brewin Dolphin, BT, Leeds City Council and Walker Morris.
SUPPORT THE POPPY APPEAL
Our 2015 Poppy Appeal campaign included City Poppy Days in London, Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester, Cardiff and Leeds all raising vital funds for our work.