Belfast City Hall illuminated in red as Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal launched
Belfast City Hall was lit up in a suitably red hue last night for the launch of the Royal British Legion's Poppy Appeal.
While the facade of the building was very much aglow, it was perhaps outshone by the singing of the 50-strong children's choir from the Glencraig Integrated Primary School.
The Holywood school's pupils opened the reception in the Banquet Hall, where the public was urged to wear their poppies with pride again this year.
The annual event remembers those who lost their lives in wars and raises money to support the families of those in the armed forces.
The Legion's chairman in Northern Ireland, George Black, revealed that the charity aimed to raise £1.2m locally, which will go towards the national target of £37m.
He said the money will allow the Legion to continue to deliver practical help to the services community, including crisis grants, family breaks, benefits and money advice.
"It is a very ambitious target but I am confident that through our volunteers and the public we can rise to the challenge. Those who have supported us thus far, from the centre of my heart, I thank and salute you," he said.
Deputy Lord Mayor Christopher Stalford was presented with the civic wreath by Belfast man David Smith, who previously served with the Territorial Army and was able to turn to the Legion for support when he suffered from ill health.
Another wreath was presented by 15-year-old John Glover, a member of the RBL Northern Ireland youth rugby team, formed earlier this year.
Mr Stalford told those in attendance a story about a soldier who lived next door to him when he was a child who sadly lost his life in war.
He explained that after his death, the soldier's family were able to turn to the Legion for help.
"Civilians rise and sleep under the blanket of freedom provided by men and women who serve in uniform," he said.
"That's why it is so important and I urge the public to dig deep and give generously."
The Poppy Appeal was launched nationally by pop groups The Saturdays and Union J at a concert for armed forces families.
The stars performed a two-hour gig in a huge aircraft hangar at RAF Northolt in west London for thousands of loved ones of servicemen and women.