Poppies have real appeal with record amount raised

    Carl Lewis in the Memorial Gardens

    The head of the Tonbridge Poppy Appeal has been left ‘flabbergasted’ after a record figure was raised over the Remembrance period this year.

    Overall the appeal collected £30,592, almost a 70 per cent increase on last year’s total of £18,150. It also beat the previous record of £24,000.

    The money helps fund the Royal British Legion’s welfare programmes, providing health and financial support to those, past and present, who have served in the British Armed Forces and their families.

    Organiser Carl Lewis said he was ‘ecstatic’ to have broken the record in his inaugural year but insisted that it was ‘entirely a team effort’.

    “I have been blown away by the community spirit of Tonbridge. I’ve enjoyed meeting so many fantastic people along the High Street and I’m simply flabbergasted at people’s generosity,” he said.

    Mr Lewis took over after the closure of the Tonbridge branch of the Royal British Legion earlier this year. They had traditionally organised the fundraising.

    A number of local organisations have stepped in to fill the hole left by the hard-working legion. These include the local cadet forces who, together with Sainsbury’s, raised £3,500.

    Peak Fitness held an 18 hour sponsored ‘spinathon’ on Armistice Day, where participants spent hours peddling exercise bikes to raise more than £3,000.

    Mr Lewis also commended the efforts of the Air Training Corp, staff at the Lloyds bank on the High Street as well as ‘every single volunteer’ who helped raise the money for the Royal British Legion, adding: “I’ve got about 150 thank you cards to write.”

    Preparations are already underway for next year, with ‘lots of ideas’ being discussed.

    • If you’re interested in helping out call Jane Ayers on 01622 793194