Duke launches Norfolk Poppy Appeal

It may only cost a few pence out of our pockets, but poppies worn on lapels over the next few weeks make a huge difference to the lives of hundreds of people in Norfolk.

It may only cost a few pence out of our pockets, but poppies worn on lapels over the next few weeks make a huge difference to the lives of hundreds of people in Norfolk.

That was the message from the Royal British Legion yesterday as the Duke of Kent attended a service in Norwich to launch the county's Poppy Appeal.

The traditional ceremony in the grounds of the ancient Great Hospital in Bishopgate was a chance to pause and reflect on those who had fallen while also paying tribute to the thousands involved in today's conflicts in the Middle East.

The Duke planted the first cross in a garden of remembrance, met some of the hospital's elderly residents - many of whom are veterans of the second world war - and inspected the many standard bearers from around Norfolk.

This year's campaign focuses on remembering the significance of the poppy and the legion's commitment to supporting men and women who put their lives on the lines for the nation.

Ex-Royal Navy diver Ian Baragwanath , 44, from Caistor St Edmund, near Norwich, never expected to call on the legion but said the Poppy Appeal had been a tremendous support.

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His world shattered two years ago when his wife, Sarah, was diagnosed with the terminal condition motor-neurone disease.

Mr Baragwanath had to give up his well-paid job to care for his wife and their three young children - and did not know where to turn.

The legion offered practical and financial support straightaway, paying the Baragwanath's utility bills and funding the children's independent education at Langley School.

“The legion can't fix your life but they can clearly take the pressure off - they have helped us by paying for schooling because we wanted the children's lives to be as stable and as normal as possible,” he said.

“I have to admit that prior to us having help from the legion, I did support the Poppy Appeal but we really felt it was for veterans and so I never saw myself needing or for it to be for people in my position - I was that naïve.

“It has made a big difference to our lives, especially the children's lives.”

To find out more about the legion's work or to volunteer call 01480 450191.

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