Legion celebrates record-breaking Poppy Appeal

Craig Murphy from Keepmoat presenting a cheque to RBL Ashton president Tom Atherton and chair John Burns
Craig Murphy from Keepmoat presenting a cheque to RBL Ashton president Tom Atherton and chair John Burns

A veterans’ group has thanked generous supporters after enjoying another record-breaking Poppy Appeal.

The Ashton branch of the Royal British Legion (RBL) smashed its previous highest total of £48,000, ending up with an extraordinary total of more than £64,000 from its fund-raising drive.

The generosity of people is amazing. Year on year they come forward and are always there to support us in whatever we do

John Burns

The group was helped on its way to the incredible final figure by construction firm Keepmoat Homes North West, which contributed £11,500 after picking the appeal as its official charity.

The public also responded to the campaign to help veterans and their families as never before, ensuring residents beat their efforts last year by £5,000 to put the Legion £3,000 over its initial £50,000 target.

RBL Ashton branch chairman John Burns said: “I’m absolutely over the moon. No words can describe how I felt when I added up the final figures. Never in our wildest dreams did we think we would get anywhere near £64,000, it’s amazing.

“Keepmoat getting involved was just brilliant and it all happened the night before we started selling poppies, so it was an amazing start. Once again our volunteers have been tremendous and a lot of Wigan Council staff spent their day of charity work helping us.

“The whole aspect of the Poppy Appeal was very special this time. We’ve got a really good team of fund-raisers here and the generosity of people is amazing. Year on year they come forward and are always there to support us in whatever we do.”

Keepmoat staged a gala dinner to get the fund-raising under way, with the auction of a painting of a poppy by soldier-turned-artist John Wilkinson raising £4,500 and another man who had been outbid in the sale contributing £2,500.

Supermarket shoppers once again contributed thousands to the appeal, with collections at Asda in Golborne raising £11,000 and the Tesco and Costco stores in Haydock both topping the £10,000 mark. Army Cadets, Sea Cadets and Rotary Club joined volunteers to rattle collection buckets and sell poppies.

The group said raising such a huge total would transform the lives of those who have served on the front line and support relatives of those who made the ultimate sacrifice.