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On hearing reports of a lack of poppy sellers this year, singers Hayley Westenra and Jonathan Ansell volunteered to support The Royal British Legion by selling poppies themselves at Waterloo Station. Anyone lucky enough to buy a poppy from the stars was able to hear two of the most remarkable voices of our time. Alongside Hayley and Jonathan was Poppy Man – the symbolic representation of the help The Royal British Legion gives to serving and ex-Service people and their families.
The Royal British Legion is looking to recruit a ‘new generation’ of 10,000 Poppy Appeal collectors between now and November 11th in a bid to meet an ambitious £32 million fundraising target.
Miss Westenra is fresh off the plane from Basra, where she launched the Legion’s 2008 Poppy Appeal, raising morale by singing to the troops. Having been deeply affected by her experience in Basra, Hayley feels strongly about continuing her work with the Legion back in London.
"When I was in Basra I spoke to a lad, just 19 years old, who had been driving a tank on the front line. When I look at photographs of soldiers marching home from war in 1918 and the faces of the men and women around me in Basra, what strikes me is how young they all are – and that the Legion has been there for all of them. Wars may change, but the need for a charity to deal with the human cost of conflict remains very much the same."
Jonathan Ansell, who will be performing a duet with Hayley at the Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall on 8th November, wants to encourage the younger generation to get involved:
“People think of poppy selling as a job for the older generation, but there’s no reason why young people can’t be involved as well. The cause is as relevant to us today as it ever has been.”
Both Hayley and Jonathan feel that it is extremely important to remind people going about their everyday lives to think of the 4,500 British Armed Forces personnel in Iraq and nearly 8,000 others in Afghanistan - and are pleased to have the opportunity to do this through their gift of singing.
Between them, the tenor and soprano have sold over 10 million albums and sell out some of the world's biggest concert halls, so the commuters at Waterloo Station received an extraordinary treat.
The Poppy Appeal takes place in the two-week period running up to Remembrance Sunday on 9th November and Armistice Day on 11th November, when the nation pauses for a Two Minute Silence to remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice during their service for their country.
To see Poppy Man out at about across the UK just visit his new blog at blog.poppyman.org.uk. To appear on Poppy Man’s blog text pictures and messages to 07786 201 241 with POPM at the start of your message.
Fancy being a volunteer for the Royal British Legion? To register your interest as a Poppy Collector, phone 0800 085 5924 or email Poppy People (please include your postcode in the email
Annabelle Fuller, The Royal British Legion: 07919 696 456 / AFuller@britishlegion.org.uk
Caroline Crick, Universal Music: 07799 748 169 / firstname.lastname@example.org
©The Royal British Legion 2014. Registered Charity No 219279. 199 Borough High St, London SE1 1AA. Tel +44 (0)20 3207 2100