Poppy Appeal stays true to history

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The Poppy Appeal is one of the longest running and most successful fundraising campaigns still going. Gareth Jones looks at the success of the appeal and the challenges it faces to remain relevant.

7th November 2017 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

The Poppy Appeal is one of the longest running and most successful fundraising campaigns in history.

Inspired by the poem In Flanders Fields, penned by Colonel John McCrae in Ypres in 1915, the poppy was adapted as a symbol of remembrance after the First World War.

The first Poppy Appeal took place in 1921 with poppies imported from France and in 1926 Lady Haig established Lady Haig’s Poppy Factory in the Canongate, Edinburgh, which consisted of two men making poppies using paper and scissors. Demand for the poppies grew, and in 1966 Lady Haig’s Poppy Factory moved to Warriston Road, where it has been ever since.

But how difficult is it for Poppyscotland to keep the appeal going and ensure that victims of conflicts old and new are remembered? 

Gordon Michie

Gordon Michie

The charity’s head of fundraising Gordon Michie said that the appeal has a strong history, but there is always important to ensure it remains relevant whilst continuing to pay tribute to those who have died in conflicts.

“I think the success of the campaign is that it is part of every community in the country,” he told TFN. “The ownership doesn’t belong to a head office, it belongs to every member of the Scottish public.

“We build into our psyche the need to remember those who gave their all.

“What we do need to try and do is ensure what happens in the modern day is recognised, and that the relevance of the campaign is still there. There are other conflicts happening all the time and we are supporting returning veterans and their families every day of the year.”

Mark Bibbey

Mark Bibbey

Poppyscotland chief executive Mark Bibbey said that the charity faces challenges with reducing numbers of people who have direct links with the military.

He said: “Like many big campaigns it seems to run on wheels. The challenge is doing it year in year out in a changing world. At the moment, the big challenge is a reduction in size of the armed forces community.

“That results in a reduction in direct personal contact with the military.

“If you were to ask people my age then most of them would either have a family member who served in the armed forces, or would know someone that did. But if you asked a room full of 30 year olds, it would be very different.”

The Scottish Poppy Appeal raises millions of pounds every year – with the five million poppies handmade at the Edinburgh factory providing the vast majority of the charity’s funding. This, combined with its other year-round fundraising, goes towards providing support and funding to thousands of ex-servicemen and women as well as other support services.

Events are held throughout October into November by the charity – and have included remembrance services in Glasgow and Edinburgh, a launch event at the Forth Road Bridge and exhibition at Buchanan Galleries shopping centre. The appeal culminates with the traditional Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday events.

Bibbey said that although much of the work on the appeal seems to happen around this period, organising such a large campaign needs year-round attention.

“This time of year is a bit crazy. The diaries tend to go out the window and you are reacting to what goes on every day.

“But the poppy factory is geared up for every day of the year. We have 36 disabled veterans there working all year round. They have a push to ensure they get all of the poppies out, and also see an increase in school visits at this time of the year.

“But we do have other things that we focus on throughout the year, we have fundraising activities that go on away from the traditional campaign and also the operational aspect of providing support.”

Campaign aims to go the Extra Mile

Poppy Appeal stays true to history

Supporters of the Poppy Appeal are being asked to go the #ExtraMile to help boost funds.

While tin donations remain absolutely vital to the appeal, Poppyscotland is encouraging supporters to undertake other types of fundraising activities.

“We are asking people to go the #ExtraMile this year,” said head of fundraising Gordon Michie. “Our armed forces go the extra mile every day. We wanted to add something to our traditional fundraising, and will also be launching a new campaign ahead of Remembrance Sunday.”

Events suggested as potential fundraisers include running a 10K in Edinburgh, a dusk race at the Kelpies in Falkirk this weekend and hosting Tea & Toast events in the community.

Ruth and Barry Hirst are just two the people who are supporting the campaign, dancing at the Eastgate Centre in Inverness to collect money.

Ruth said: "I am the envy of my friends because I have a husband who can dance properly rather than shuffle awkwardly away in the background. It was our pleasure to support this year’s Poppy Appeal and we’d encourage others to do whatever they can, too.”

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