Giant poppy takes to the streets for annual fundraiser

    COLLECTION POINT: Pictured (l-r) are MP Tom Tugendhat, Chris Bingham, The Royal British Legion Poppy Mascot Carl Lewis, Richard Heald, Leader of the Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council Nicolas Heslop on Tonbridge High Street.

    THE Poppy Appeal in Tonbridge was given a big push when 20 volunteers took to the streets on Saturday to raise funds for The British Legion.

    The main collection point was centred round the Pavilion Arcade where local musician Tom Carradine played popular songs from the war years on his piano.

    MP Tom Tugendhat, Mayor Mark Rhodes, Leader of the Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council Cllr Nicolas Heslop, Cllr Vivian Branson and Cllr Owen Baldock as well as enthusiasts from The Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment Living History Group joined the volunteers at different times during the day to help with the fundraising efforts.

    The Tonbridge appeal’s organiser Carl Lewis, also dressed as the Poppy Mascot which helped attract the attention of passers-by.

    Mr Lewis, who is organising the town’s Poppy Appeal for the first time, said: “The weekend was a great success and I would like to thank the staff at Pavilion Flowers for their assistance, all the collectors, as well as everyone who has donated and of course my wife Jenny for all her patience.

    “A considerable portion of my family have served in the Armed Forces, my cousin, for example, served in the Royal Marines for over 35 years. My grandfather served in Burma in WW2, and my great grandfathers served in the military, one during the Boer War, and the other died in 1917 aboard HMS Strongbow.

    “The Poppy Appeal means a great deal to me in terms of supporting those who have supported us through their time of service to our country. When they need help, everyone who has put money in one of our collecting tins, taken part in a sponsored run, or any kind of fundraising for the Royal British Leagion, has answered the call.”

    Commemorations will be held this week on Armistice Day (Friday, November 11), with a two-minute silence at 11am, followed by a short service at the Town Memorial by the Watergate.

    On Remembrance Sunday (November 13), a service and wreath-laying will take place in the Memorial Gardens on Bradford Street at 10.45am, and the annual parade will pass by the memorial on its way to Tonbridge Castle.