£1.2m target as boy soldier Greg launches Poppy Appeal
A Belfast schoolboy whose great-great-grandfather served in the 36th (Ulster) Division at the Battle of the Somme will today launch the British Legion's 2015 Poppy Appeal in Northern Ireland.
Greg Jamison (15) will wear the uniform of the Division as he presents the first poppy of the appeal.
Greg discovered that his own relative had served with the 36th in the 1916 battle and as a result has become deeply involved in Poppy Appeal and Remembrance activities within his local community and further afield.
This year the Royal British Legion is inviting the public in Northern Ireland to uncover the many stories behind the poppy, from its origins as a symbol of remembrance and hope, to modern news of how the charity helps the armed forces community in your local area.
The call to find out more about the Poppy Appeal and its history in the province came from Ards and North Down mayor Alan Graham, who launches this year's appeal at the Somme Heritage Centre in Conlig today.
He said: "It is important that we continue to remember the sacrifice of the soldiers who fought in the First World War, as well as more recent conflicts.
"I would encourage everyone to support the annual Poppy Appeal to raise awareness and vital funds for the work of the Royal British Legion in supporting our veterans, serving personnel and their families.
"We in the Ards and North Down Borough are privileged to have the Somme Heritage Centre on our doorstep, where we can begin to understand what our soldiers went through and their bravery in the most extreme conditions."
Also speaking at the event will be Leonard Quigg, great-nephew of Robert Quigg, who won the Victoria Cross, Britain's highest honour for valour.
The award was made for his "most conspicuous bravery" in rescuing comrades at the Somme in July 1916.
The generosity of the UK public has allowed the British Legion to answer more than 450,000 calls for help in the last year.
The money raised from the Poppy Appeal goes towards the charity's work with current serving personnel, veterans and their families, including innovative dementia care, theatre therapy projects, world-leading research on blast injury studies, and Legion-owned seaside break centres, such as Bennet House in Portrush.
The Poppy Appeal fundraising target in Northern Ireland this year is £1.2m, which will go towards the Legion's national target of £41m, which is required to continue its vital work delivering practical, through-life care and support to the armed forces community.
The Royal British Legion's area manager for Ireland, Brian Maguire, said: "Despite its long history, the Legion's role remains as contemporary and as vital as it has ever been, supporting today's generation of service personnel, veterans, and their families - whether living with an injury or illness, coping with bereavement or finding employment.
"We're encouraging people to dig deep for this year's Northern Ireland Poppy Appeal to help us raise £1.2m.
"The Legion's work is entirely dependent on the public's generous support, so please wear your poppy with pride, knowing that you are helping the armed forces community to live on."