Tonbridge must pull together to overcome poppy challenge

    Carl Lewis

    Businesses and residents are being urged to get behind this year’s Poppy Appeal, which faces a new challenge following the closure last month of the Tonbridge Royal British Legion branch – whose members previously organised the fundraising.

    As previously reported by the Times, the women’s section president, June Edwards, said the Legion had folded because of its ageing membership, as well as concerns about the Tonbridge branch being rolled into the national body after operating separately for decades.

    Town Flood Warden and Tonbridge Lions member Carl Lewis has taken on the area’s Poppy Appeal duties.

    He said: “I’m very grateful to companies in the town that have already said they would have poppy collection boxes, and I’ve also sent information out to schools about it.

    “I have also had some help from cadet forces in the town, but we are looking for more appeal collectors for the High Street and other residential areas.

    “This is a cause that I think is very important, coming from a uniformed background with my father and cousins having been in the armed forces,” ­explained Mr Lewis.

    He added that raising funds to support military staff who may have suffered ­physically and psychologically following service in conflicts such as Iraq and Afghanistan, or veterans dating back as far as World War Two, was ­particularly vital.

    Mr Lewis believed that those who had shown ­‘ultimate devotion’ to their country deserved support from their communities, and had been heartened by the town’s response so far.

    Among the fundraising activities for the appeal will be an 18-hour ­‘spinathon’ session taking place at Peak Fitness in Tonbridge and a cockney sing-along with pianist Tom Carradine on November 5 at the Pavilion Arcade.

    Mr Lewis added: “It’s a shame the Royal British Legion branch in Tonbridge has closed, which leaves the town a little bit in limbo, but any of the Legion’s members are welcome to join in with the Poppy Appeal. I hope we’re able to raise even more than last year’s total of £12,000.”

    For more information about becoming a collector email Carl Lewis at hmsstrongbow@yahoo.co.uk