Eastbourne Poppy Appeal rallies team together after last year’s ‘crisis’

The poppy appeal under way
The poppy appeal under way

The Eastbourne Royal British Legion (RBL) has rallied and assembled a new team this year after last year’s lack of volunteers.

The poppy appeal seemed in crisis when dwindling support in November meaned the RBL struggled to get the boxes out.

The new team for the RBL in Eastbourne

The new team for the RBL in Eastbourne

The former chairman, Dave Smedley, had to step back in to help despite having had heart failure.

And luckily, an ‘army’ of new recruits rallied at the last minute to deliver the symbolic flowers – but the local RBL was still in trouble.

David Whatley, the new chairman of the Eastbourne Branch, said, “After the poppy appeal last year there was a Special General Meeting.

“At this meeting, had the branch not formed a committee, it would have been closed down.

“Luckily there was enough interest to form a committee and keep us running.

“It was a close call but we made it.”

Many members had left due to age, the group’s relocation, or having passed away. But the new team is hoping to save the Remembrance appeal.

Mr Whatley said, “With this being the 100th anniversary of Passendale, and next year the 100th anniversary of the ending of the First World War, we must keep in mind the many people who lost their lives during that time.

“It’s important to remember that the Legion also deals with people from the all other conflicts and wars, and helps them today, so every little bit we can do helps that process along.

“We still have the depot down near ESK, where we are already starting to put together poppy boxes and plan for this years remembrance parades and services.

“We are in contact with the various organisations, along with the cadet forces, who have helped before for volunteers. We still welcome all new volunteers.”

If anyone is interested in helping with this year’s appeal, the RBL’s next meeting is on Wednesday, September 20, at the RAFA club in Wish Road from 7.30pm.

And any businesses or premises in town which would like a poppy box can contact the RBL by calling 01323 417625 or visiting its Facebook page @royalbritishlegion.eastbourne