Plea for town to help poppy appeal

By James HoreA RETIRED serviceman has issued an emotional plea after organisers of a town's Poppy Day Appeal were unable to find a base to run the operation.

By James Hore

A RETIRED serviceman has issued an emotional plea after organisers of a town's Poppy Day Appeal were unable to find a base to run the operation.

Retired Lieutenant Colonel Don Smith and a team of Royal British Legion volunteers have been able in the past to work from an empty shop in Colchester for a couple of weeks in the run-up to Remembrance Day.

But this year their search for a place to produce wreaths, crosses and poppies in memory of fallen comrades has been in vain with estate agents unable to help find a suitable short-term location.


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Lt Col Smith, 69, said there were empty shops, but he had been told some owners were not willing to offer their property.

“All of my assistants are over 70 and some of them are in their 90s, so it is vital we have a town centre location from which people can come and collect the items,” he added.

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“It is extremely disappointing, especially in a garrison town, that we can't provide an empty shop that is doing nothing. We would be able to leave within 24 hours if new owners needed to move in.”

Lt Col Smith, of Homefield Road, Colchester, appealed for anyone who could help to contact him as soon as possible. “I remain hopeful that it is not too late,” he added.

The plea has been backed by Colchester MP, Bob Russell, who said it was an important year for the appeal.

“As arguably Britain's premier garrison town, it would be a shame if this year, particularly since the Iraq war, Colchester did not have a town centre base from which to operate the annual Poppy Day Appeal,” he added.

“The Royal British Legion, locally and nationally, does a fantastic job on behalf of former military personnel and their dependents.”

Anyone who could provide an empty shop from October 24 to November 18 should contact Lt Col Smith on 01206 572161 or Mr Russell on 01206 506600.

james.hore@eadt.co.uk

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