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Disappointment as Poppy Appeal fails to hit target

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Takings for the annual Poppy Appeal across Leicestershire and Rutland are almost 10 per cent down on the previous year, organisers have said.

The Royal British Legion, which supports 300 ex-service personnel and their families in the county each year, had been hoping the 2012/13 appeal would raise more than £600,000.

However, community fund-raiser Giles Coleman said less than £500,000 had been collected so far.

The figure is down on the £526,000 raised in 2011/12, which was a record year for the appeal.

Mr Coleman said: "We think people are feeling the pinch. Figures are down by 10 per cent locally over the previous year, compared to an eight per cent dip nationally.

"However, this compares to a record year in 2011/12 when we celebrated our 90th anniversary. If we were comparing with a normal year, the drop is about three per cent."

The latest appeal, launched in October last year, has so far raised £455,792.41 in Leicestershire and £35,254.99 in Rutland.

Mr Coleman said there was still time for people to donate.

"Although the principal Poppy Appeal collecting is carried out in October and November, we are a 365-day a year charity," he said. "We are raising money from a various range of activities all the time until the end of our year on September 30.

"We rely heavily on our team of between 2,000 and 3,000 collectors. But some are having to retire through age and we are anxious to recruit more."

D-Day veteran and Poppy Appeal collector Eric Buckley said times were hard but praised the people of Leicester for their support. Eric, 88, who has stood on the same patch outside the Highcross shopping centre every year for the last seven years, said: "It is sad to hear collections are down. I must say, though, that I have always found the people in Leicester very responsive and very generous.

"I think it says a lot about this country that people still find the money to donate even in these troubled times.

"We need more collectors, but I will be out there every day for two weeks later in the year. It is a very rewarding job to do."

County Royal British Legion chaplain the Rev John Morley said lots of charities were struggling to raise funds.

The Rev Morley, who is also vice-chairman of the Market Harborough branch, said more collectors were needed.

"In the Harborough area we did well again last year," he said.

"But our collectors are getting on and some are not able to brave the rigours of the weather in October and November any more.

"We would like to hear from young people who would like to volunteer to be collectors.

"One company gave one employee a paid day off last year to be a collector. We would like to encourage more companies of thinking of doing the same thing."

People who want to get involved in raising funds locally for the Poppy Appeal can contact Mr Coleman by e-mail at:

gcoleman@britishlegion.org.uk


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