29 October 2021

PM buys poppy to support Royal British Legion’s centenary campaign

29 October 2021

The Prime Minister has purchased a poppy outside 10 Downing Street, lending his support to the Royal British Legion’s centenary appeal.

The red flower – a common sight on the Western Front – became a symbol of remembrance for those killed in the First World War as the conflict drew to a close.

Boris Johnson was greeted at the door to Number 10 by five poppy appeal fundraisers.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson met five poppy appeal fundraisers outside Number 10 (Steve Parsons/PA) (PA Wire)

Tom Dempsey, an 84-year-old Army veteran, said it was “amazing” to sell a paper flower to the Prime Minister, who made his donation on a card machine.

“He just made it so relaxing, as if he was one of your family,” Mr Dempsey told the PA news agency.

Mr Dempsey, who has been collecting for the annual poppy appeal for 20 years, said the campaign is “very important”.

He added: “We would appreciate anybody from anywhere, any walk of life, please come give us a hand.

Boris Johnson attaches his poppy after purchasing it from fundraisers (Steve Parsons/PA) (PA Wire)

“We do well but we would love to do more.”

Founded in 1921, the poppy appeal raises funds for veterans, serving personnel and their families.

Mr Dempsey, who served as sergeant in the 151 (London) Transport Regiment, also said he is delighted to be back fundraising in the community, after Covid-19 restrictions put a pause on that in 2020.

The tradition is resuming this year in the run-up to Armistice Day, with the Royal British Legion expecting 40,000 collectors to distribute poppies across the country.

In brief remarks, the Prime Minster urged everyone to buy a “Remembrance symbol”.

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall launched the annual campaign at Clarence House on Tuesday.

In a video posted later on Twitter, Mr Johnson said: “It’s wonderful to see poppy sellers out on the streets again after last year when of course we weren’t able to do it because of Covid restrictions.

“And the poppy is a huge part of our lives, but it’s 100 years now since the foundation of the Royal British Legion and the whole concept of the poppy appeal.

“It’s ever more vital that we show our commitment as a society to our armed services who sacrificed so much for us.”

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