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The 90th Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal was launched in the UK last week, focusing on its support for the injured, wounded and bereaved of Afghanistan. This weekend, the campaign kicked off in theatre.
Members of the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force at main operating bases in southern Afghanistan are now wearing their poppies with pride, with trays of the iconic symbols of sacrifice having arrived and gone on sale in many places.
There is no shortage of volunteers to co-ordinate the fundraising effort, and already, within hours of the poppies going on sale, they are a common adornment to uniforms across Camp Bastion and Main Operating Base Lashkar Gah.
Regimental Sergeant Major, Warrant Officer Steve Spink, who is co-ordinating the appeal in Lashkar Gah, the headquarters of Task Force Helmand, said:
The moment we put the tray out and put the poppies on sale, we had a queue to buy them. The currency used out here is US dollars and we’ve made a suggestion that people pay $1 for their poppy - but most people are being much more generous.
Everyone here recognises the incredible work the Royal British Legion does for the whole Armed Forces community and everybody wants to be a part of it.
We have other nationalities working on this base - from Americans and Estonians, to local Afghans. We all take great pride in explaining to those not aware of the history of the poppy how it came to be such a powerful symbol after World War I, and why it is still so relevant today, 90 years on.
Garrison Sergeant Major, Warrant Officer Steve Cox, who is co-ordinating the appeal at Camp Bastion added:
The Poppies are being snapped up at Camp Bastion by Service personnel and civilian contractors alike. The significance of the Royal British Legion’s appeal is not lost on the young lads out here.
When it comes to remembrance, for many it will hold a very personal significance.
Under the motto, ‘Put on a poppy’, the national Poppy Appeal was launched in the UK last Thursday, 28 October 2010, at Colchester Garrison with a concert from chart-topping pop sensations, The Saturdays, for families and personnel of 16 Air Assault Brigade, which is currently on combat operations in Afghanistan.
The 2010 Appeal has a fundraising target of £36m, up from the record £35m raised in 2009.