Eastbourne Poppy Appeal in crisis due to shortage of volunteers

Dave Smedley of the Royal Legion in Eastbourne (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-160311-100912008
Dave Smedley of the Royal Legion in Eastbourne (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-160311-100912008

The Eastbourne Poppy Appeal is struggling due to a shortage of volunteers to distribute Royal British Legion poppies for this year’s Remembrance period.

Dave Smedley, former organiser at the British Legion Eastbourne branch, had heart failure last Christmas and stepped down from his role.

But no-one was assigned to replace him and there are few volunteers to lend their support.

So this year he has stepped in again to help distribute boxes of poppies – but he cannot do everything.

He said, “A lot of people won’t get their box of poppies. It’s been quite stressful. Last year I had heart failure and told the British Legion I couldn’t do it any more.

“But they don’t seem to have anyone so I’m stepping in to do what I can.

“Some people are helping me but there is no organiser.”

Mr Smedley has decided to help again this year despite being told it would not be good for his health.

He said the team this year have been able to cover local supermarkets and schools and are hoping to get around the Arndale Centre, but it has been a struggle.

“A lot of volunteers have left due to age or passing away,” he said, “I have got no way to count the money from donations.”

The Royal British Legion is a charity that provides lifelong support for the Armed Forces community by helping men and women, veterans, and their families.

The Poppy Appeal is the Royal British Legion’s biggest fundraising campaign held every year in November, the period of Remembrance.

Each year, volunteers distribute paper poppies throughout the country, collecting donations in return to help support the vital work the British Legion does for the Armed Forces community.

The poppy is a symbol of Remembrance, to remember the fallen service men and women killed in conflict.

For more information or to volunteer with the local British Legion branch, call 01323 417625.