Feature: Poppy selling in Ilkeston to raise funds for the Royal British Legion

Ilkeston Advertiser's Sarah Bould with Brian Brown at Morrisions, where she tried her hand at poppy selling.
Ilkeston Advertiser's Sarah Bould with Brian Brown at Morrisions, where she tried her hand at poppy selling.

If you haven’t pinned a poppy on your lapel yet and donated to the Royal British Legion there is still time.

Gone are the days of a the simple paper poppy, now you can get poppies that attach to your car, poppy wristbands, poppy pins, poppy crayons, crosses and pencils.

And it’s the members of the RBL that give up their time to stand in supermarkets selling the Remembrance Day souvenirs. I joined Brian Brown, welfare secretary for the Ilkeston branch, on Monday afternoon as he sold poppies in Morrisons in Ilkeston.

Brian, 79, who has only recently retired from HGV driving, joined the Ilkeston branch of the legion in 1984 when he left the Territorial Army. He even met his wife through the legion.

He said: “People think we only raise money two weeks a year but we do it all year round.

“I hear stories from people all the time who talk about their granddads or relatives. It’s good for them to speak about it and they enjoy it.”

Brian, who served with the Royal Army Service Corps from 1954, mainly as an ambulance driver, said the army now is completely different: “When I first joined it was more rigorous with stiff uniforms like you see in Dad’s Army. Now it’s all lightweight and modern and they are not allowed to shout at you. Before you would get your earhole battered if you didn’t do what you were told.”

Brian went on to join the RAF and later the Robin Hood Rifles cadets in Nottingham. When he left the army he had a job delivering guns.

He said: “The legion is run on army lines, it’s about the companionship and banter. People take the mickey out of each other.

“A lot of ex army lads need the legion because when you’ve had ten to 12 years of people telling you to do something you need a few years off,you don’t want to be told what to do.”

Nationally the legion donates £50 million every year to those who need it.

Brian volunteers as a seller all day every day for two weeks leading up to Remembrance Day and said more young people need to take up the reins. Stanton-By-Dale’s branch, for example, has dwindling numbers and more people need to join in order for it to keep going.

Anybody can join the RBL and money donated through poppy sales helps provide thousands of modern veterans service men women and their families with vital advice and support.

It provides information, advice and guidance to help the Armed Forces community find and access the support they need, helping members of the Royal Navy, British Army, Royal Air Force, Reservists, veterans and their families.

People planning to attend Ilkeston’s parade on Sunday November 8 are asked to be at South Street car park no later than 10.20am. The march will make its way to the Cenotaph on the Market Place for the Remembrance Service which will commence with the wreath laying ceremony at 10.40am.

Those planning to attend the Long Eaton parade need to be at West Gate by 10.20am. The march will make its way to the War Memorial for the Act of Remembrance and wreath laying at 10.45am. A service and mass will be held at St Laurence’s Church from 9.30am prior to the parade.