Standing Shoulder to Shoulder with All Who Serve

This year’s Norfolk’s Poppy Appeal launch at RAF Marham saw the Station Commander, Group Captain David Cooper, hand an Olympic style baton to the President of the Royal British Legion in Norfolk, Mr Tim Cole.

The baton was designed and made by SAC Jonathan Franklyn-Bray from Station Work Shops and symbolises the strong links between past, present and future generations of service families in the County, the support of which is a commitment shared by RAF Marham and the Royal British Legion. However, the role of the baton is not merely symbolic as it will shortly be passed between the 70 Legion branches in Norfolk before making its way to Afghanistan where those service personnel from the County will have the opportunity to carry it, before it goes on permanent display back at RAF Marham.

As the hosts of this year’s Norfolk Poppy Appeal launch, a Tornado GR4 was given a temporary makeover that saw it decorated with specially designed Royal British Legion Poppy livery. The aircraft, that formed the backdrop to the launch, will provide a static display throughout the Poppy Appeal period, during which time personnel from RAF Marham will take part in a range of fundraising activities leading up to Remembrance Sunday. Highlights from the charity events list will include a Runway Fun Run, a 5-A-Side Football Tournament and a Non-Uniform Day that will see the Station raise money that will help ensure the Royal British Legion can continue its vital work to support the service community well into the future.

Welfare is at the heart of all that the Royal British Legion does and alongside the traditional support to the ex-service community that includes care and respite opportunities, financial and emotional support, the Legion is also dedicated to supporting those currently serving. In 2010, the largest single donation in the charity’s history saw £50 million committed to develop the Battle Back Centres that provide adaptive sports and outdoor activities while also supporting the operating costs of 4 Personnel Recovery Centres in the UK and a further centre in Germany.

However, much of the money raised locally goes directly back to support projects in the County and last year that amounted to £480,000 of the £638,814.00 raised by the Appeal in Norfolk. Kate Williams, the Royal British Legion’s Area Manager East Anglia, said ‘10 years ago the majority of our cases were for bags of coal and telephone bills. Today, the applications we see have multiple needs and have become highly complex. Most of the applications cannot be assisted by the Legion alone so we have to work closely with statutory sources such as the NHS and local authorities. The support provided can range from repairs to the home, mobility scooters, holidays, adventure breaks for children, residential care, pilgrimages to war cemeteries, benefits and money advice, war pension claims, education and training grants…the list is endless.  There is very little we can’t do to help and if we genuinely can’t, we usually know someone who can. Sometimes the smallest item can make the biggest change to a person’s life’

Despite the enormous support demonstrated by the many thousands that wear a poppy during the days preceding Remembrance, few people know the history behind the little paper poppy and that of the charity that drives the appeal. Founded on 1st July 1921, the British Legion was formed by combining four ex-service organisations in order to meet the needs of the many thousands who were physically and mentally injured as a result of their service in the First World War.

The origins of the poppy came from a poem penned by a Canadian Colonel who had been inspired by the plants that symbolically flowered blood red throughout the shattered Western Front landscape.

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The Larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

Following the poem’s publication in Punch magazine, an American teacher saw Colonel John McCrae’s poem and had the idea of selling poppies to raise money for ex-servicemen and woman who had suffered as a result of the War. The first official Poppy Day in Britain was held in 1921 and raised a staggering £106,000 (3.5 million in today’s money). The following year Major George Howson MC, who served in the Great War, founded the disabled society and arranged with the Legion for unemployed ex-service personnel to make artificial poppies from a small factory, and so the British tradition of purchasing a poppy for Remembrance was born.

The British Legion became ‘The Royal British Legion’ in 1971, in recognition for 50 years of supporting the nation’s servicemen, women and their families. Although the type of support has developed considerably over the years, the mission to stand shoulder to shoulder with all who serve remains unchanged.

Today the Royal British Legion is one of the country’s largest membership organisations with some 370,000 members nationwide and a further 11,000 overseas. Anyone who has served in the Armed Forces for at least seven days or is a dependant of someone who has served the qualifying period is eligible for assistance and the Legion remains dedicated to reaching out to around 500,000 of those in greatest need.

The Royal British Legion spends around £200,000 each day supporting the service community, so please dig deep this year as every penny really does count.

Please see the table for details of fundraising events throughout the week leading up to Remembrance Sunday, see also Scrolling News and Station Notice Boards for further and current information.

RAF Marham Poppy Week
Sunday 4th, November

Kids Cinema Special Event*
Film ‘Valiant’ 2pm Louis Bar function room. £2 per person (includes £1 donation to go to the Poppy Appeal)
ISS RAFCRL partnership are delighted to show their support with special offers during both Poppy Appeal screenings.*

Monday 5th, November
Runway Fun Run
A rare opportunity to run,walk or jog around 4 km of Marham’s runway.Fancy dress encouraged! Minimum £1 donation to the Poppy Appeal.

Cinema Special Event*
Film ‘Blackadder Goes Forth’ 7pm Louis Bar function room. £2 per person (includes £1 donation to go to the Poppy Appeal).
ISS RAFCRL partnership are delighted to show their support with special offers during both Poppy Appeal screenings.*

Tuesday 6th, November
Membership Day
County RBL reps visit Station to provide membership information. Stn Main briefing room (see your unit RBL Rep for timings).

Wednesday 7th, November
Poppy Lunch
Visit your Mess to sample the menu especially created for the Poppy Appeal.

Thursday 8th, November
Poppy Appeal Gate Collection

Sports Afternoon
5-A-Side Football Tournament, Trophies and Poppy Ale for the Victors, max 8 players, £1 per person.

Friday 9th, November
Poppy Appeal Gate Collection

Non-uniform day
Min £1 donation to the your RBL Rep for the Poppy Appeal.

Raffle Draw
Many exciting prizes to be won; trip in the Tornado Simulator, Armoured Vehicle Drive at Muckleborough, signed Norwich FC merchandise and much more!

Each day there will be lemon and orange poppy seed muffins and biscuits available for sale in the JRM – minimum donation £1


Royal British Legion (RBL) merchandise will be for sale throughout the week with stalls at each activity. Please support the RBL and wear your Poppy with Pride.