Annual Poppy Appeal launched and really needs our support


Chris Smithson pictured in 2018 with the then Town Mayor Councillor Shaida Hussain

“the people of Banbury are very generous, but this year the poppy appeal is going to be very limited”

The National Poppy Appeal for 2020 is launched today.   In a very challenging climate the Chairman of the Banbury branch of the Royal British Legion is urging us to show our support.

Last year’s appeal raised £60,000 locally.   Normally volunteers would be positioned at key locations around the town with many local shops also selling poppies and other merchandise.   Many parts of North Oxfordshire would also see the door-to-door sale of poppies.   COVID-19 restrictions mean that much of this normal activity won’t be able to happen this year.

Chris Smithson oversees the annual Poppy Appeal in North Oxfordshire and is the Chairman of the Royal British Legion in Banbury.   Mr Smithson told Banbury FM: “Its going to be very difficult this year.   We normally raise the most in the county – the people of Banbury are very generous, but this year the poppy appeal is going to be very limited.”

Some shops are unable to offer merchandise sales this year as COVID-19 precautions and the installation of safety screens means there is no room for a poppy box and collecting tin.   This will be the first year ever since the inception of the appeal that there won’t be any street collecting or door to door sales.

Mr Smithson has been running the local appeal for 15 years.   He said: “When I first started we were raising £13,000 a year but now its up to £60,000 – a phenomenal amount.

“The supermarkets and garages are very supportive.   We have a presence in Morisons and Tesco’s.  Sainsburys and Waitrose are doing their own poppy appeal.   Their staff are going to be looking after the merchandise and selling it.”

Chris Smithson with Hanwell Fields school children at the Alcan memorial on Southam Road during a previous appeal

Despite the difficult conditions many local pubs and village shops are still doing their bit and selling poppies.

The Royal British Legion is urging everyone to support the appeal this year.   They say: “The pandemic has left some in our Armed Forces community in dire need of urgent help and support. We are seeing people struggling to cope with the loss of loved ones, facing homelessness and unemployment, and battling mental health issues so this year we need your help like never before.

“Covid-19 means this year’s Appeal will look different but there are still lots of ways you can support us, from taking on a fundraising challenge, to displaying a poppy in your window, donating online or undertaking a virtual Poppy run, there are so many ways you can get involved from home.”

Those unable to get out this year can support The Royal British Legion online by visiting their Poppy Shop.

You can listen to our interview with Chris Smithson here:

Published: by Banbury FM Newsteam

Reader's opinions
  1. Chris Smithson   On   22/10/2020 at 9:18 pm

    Thanks for your community support, it’s greatly appreciated in our charities time of need, so that we are able to help our Armed Forces, their families and veterans in their time of need

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