History of the Poppy Appeal
Poppies were first suggested as a symbol of Remembrance in 1918 and were adopted by the American Legion in 1920. In 1921 the British Legion adopted it and the first Poppy Appeal was born.
The first appeal raised £106,000 (nearly £30 million in today's terms) and all the poppies were supplied from France. In 1922 the "Poppy Factory" was established in the UK to keep costs down and employing disabled ex-Servicemen to make the poppies.
Note that poppies were "sold" when the appeal started but charity legislation now requires them to be 'distributed in return for donations'.
Over the past 15 years, the Legion has called on a variety of celebrities and beneficiaries to help launch and promote the Poppy Appeal, from a wide range of locations.
1997 bridged the generation gap with The Spice Girls teaming up with Dame Vera Lynn. Dame Vera had an encore performance in 2009 pairing with Hayley Westenra. The music industry feature quite often with Westlife (1999), SClub 7 (with Thora Hird in 2000), Hear'Say (2001), Katherine Jenkins (2006) and The Saturdays (2010) all participating.
Sporting stars Kelly Holmes and Michael Vaughan featured in 2004 and 2005 respectively. In 2007, our beneficiaries took centre stage with a new star, Poppy Man, who went to Basra in 2008 for our award winning live broadcast.
Poppy Appeal totals
Due to the large amounts collected it can take some time for this to flow through our large organisation. In 2013 our volunteers were really active and despite all the challenges raised an impressive £39 million.