Boris Johnson says the Poppy Appeal needs YOU more than ever as he backs The Sun's campaign to save it from coronavirus

BORIS Johnson today saluted The Sun’s poppy campaign, saying the need for this year’s Covid-hit appeal is greater than ever.

The PM’s backing came after we revealed a third of Royal British Legion poppy sellers — 12,000 collectors — were forced to step down amid virus fears.

Boris called on caring Brits to make sure brave service personnel do not face even greater hardship as we battle our invisible enemy.

The PM said: “While the circumstances in which this year’s Poppy Appeal takes place are unlike anything we have seen before, the need for it is greater than ever.

“Online, by post or in person, let’s all find a way to make our contribution.”

Around 40,000 Legion supporters sell 40million poppies every year. But their ranks will be slashed this autumn because many are elderly and vulnerable to the virus.

Those who brave Covid will be advised to wear a mask, sanitise hands and work behind a table to maximise distancing.

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So Legion chiefs have launched a host of new and innovative ways to donate safely online through their website

More stars and military top brass backed our call today — after hero fundraiser Captain Tom Moore fired the opening salvo.

Good Morning Britain’s Susanna Reid said: “I wear my poppy with pride remembering the contribution of so many during wartime.

“I hope everyone can go online to support the Poppy Appeal which needs our backing more than ever."

How to be a poppy star

THE pandemic may have stopped thousands of sellers from hitting the streets — but it doesn’t have to stop you from buying a poppy. MIKE RIDLEY looks at some of the ways you can do your bit for the appeal by going to:

  1. Fundraise for appeal: Move to Remember and the 11/11 Challenge are among the fundraising suggestions from the appeal itself. Free fundraising packs on the website will give the help and support you will need.
  2. Poppies in the post: Help make up for the reduced number of volunteer collectors by requesting 20 poppies free of charge from the RBL — and then giving them to friends and family yourself in return for a donation.
  3. My poppy run 2020: Run, walk or jog any distance, anywhere and at any time. Get family and friends involved to raise cash. And buy a T-shirt to run in and a medal to give to yourself afterwards!
  4. Visit the poppy shop: There is an extensive range of products from poppy pins and jewellery to clothing, stationery and homeware. All profits fund the Legion’s work in supporting the Armed Forces community.
  5. Make online donation: Alternatively, you could just visit the British Legion’s website and make a donation. You can choose a one-off payment or set up a regular amount — and no amount is too small.


Strictly Come Dancing head judge Shirley Ballas said: “I fully support The Sun’s campaign, and urge everyone to please do all they can to support the appeal online and donate what they can.

"Now more than ever, we must come together to remember and honour the heroes who sacrificed so much.”

Strictly host Claudia Winkleman added: “It’s so important we remember our heroes.

"My family and I wear our poppies every year, and I look forward to ordering ours online.”

Now more than ever, we must come together to remember and honour the heroes who sacrificed so much.

TV star Judge Robert Rinder said: “The Royal British Legion represents the very best of who we are and the sacrifice of millions to protect our democracy, our rule of law and rule of life.

“Their work is as vital and important as it ever was and wearing a poppy is our expression of our thanks and gratitude which is needed this year perhaps more than ever before.

“I would encourage everyone to buy one by any means possible, and wear it with pride.”

Ex-military chiefs also joined the clarion call.

Former head of the Navy Admiral George Zambellas said it was the nation’s duty to remember the “great soldiers, sailors and airmen of the past”.

Ex-Para: I owe my life to the Legion

By Mike Ridley

EX-SOLDIER Lawrence Philips is quite happy to admit: “Without the support of the Royal British Legion, I would be dead.”

The former Para, 29, served for seven years until he left due to injury.

He got a number of jobs but could not settle, suffered mental health problems and admits that he was suicidal.

Unable to work during lockdown, he also struggled to pay a £500 loan until the British Legion’s financial advisers helped negotiate lower payments.

Lawrence, who lives with partner Danielle ­Forbes in Doncaster, South Yorks, said: “I never wanted to leave service and found it really tough.

“The British Legion saved my life. They sorted out my mental health and my financial health and I can now look forward to a much better future.”

He added: “They never flinched in the face of danger and we should have the greatest Poppy Appeal we have ever had.”

General Richard Barrons, one of the four joint chiefs, said the Poppy Appeal was “a vital act of remembrance”.

He added: “It is essential and excellent that we have found an alternative way to keep the Poppy Appeal in the public mind, despite the pandemic.

Wearing a poppy is our expression of our thanks and gratitude which is needed this year perhaps more than ever before.

“It is the biggest annual occasion when we remember the cost of war and remind ourselves to avoid it at all costs in future.”

General Lord Dannatt, a former head of the Army, said: “This is really a time for people to be generous and support our service charities.

“It’s an annual campaign to honour the sacrifice of those who lost their lives in previous wars and also to honour the service of those who are still serving.

"That is as important this year as every other year.”

Legion chiefs have appealed to the public to bulk buy poppies through their website and distribute them safely to friends if they do not have access to a traditional seller.

People can also make a donation to buy a poppy poster online which can be downloaded, printed and displayed in windows at home.

Missing 1st shift in 30 years

By Mike Ridley

SERGEANT Dave Williams has spent the last 30 years collecting for the Poppy Appeal.

But this year he won’t be able to take his collecting tin on the streets.

Both he and wife Hilda tested positive for Covid-19 and are classed as vulnerable due to underlying health problems.

So they will have to stay at home and shield in Oldbury, West Mids.

Dave, 77, who served 22 years in the Army Catering Corps before joining the Field Hospital Unit as a reservist, says: “My wife and I both tested positive for Covid but were lucky we only experienced a minor bout of symptoms.

“I am waiting to have an operation in the next month, so I have to isolate in preparation. The Legion has been great in reassuring us that our safety is paramount.”

Other ideas include shoppers opting to round up totals to the pound at supermarkets.

The Legion community of staff, volunteers, partners and suppliers have been working together to ensure the 2020 Poppy Appeal goes ahead.

A spokeswoman said today: “We’re very grateful to The Sun and the incredible support we are receiving. It has given us a real boost.”

What PM said in full

"For almost a century, the inspiring sight of veterans of all ages proudly collecting for the Poppy Appeal has been as much a part of autumn as the leaves falling from the trees.

This year, of course, will be different.

Many of those who face all weathers to rattle tins for our veterans are older citizens – some of them once bravely fought themselves.

For as many as 12,000 of them, their vulnerability to an enemy quite unlike any they faced in battle means they will be unable to take up their usual posts in our towns and cities.

But while the circumstances in which this year’s Poppy Appeal takes place are unlike anything we have seen before, the need for it is greater than ever.

So I’m proud to add my name to the list of public figures supporting The Sun’s campaign to make this year’s appeal a success, regardless of the obstacles thrown in our way by the pandemic.

Online, by post or in person, let’s all find a way to make our contribution.

And, just as those famous flowers burst forth from the mud and devastation of Flanders fields a century ago, so let us ensure that even in this most difficult of autumns our nation is ablaze with red and green as we wear our poppies with pride."

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