Poppies paint the Harrogate district red as we remember our fallen war heroes

On the 100th anniversary of the Royal British Legion and the Poppy Appeal, the Harrogate District is preparing to commemorate Remembrance Day this week.

Thursday, 11th November 2021, 1:41 pm
Updated Thursday, 11th November 2021, 1:52 pm
David Houlgate, Vice Chair of the Knaresborough Royal British Legion, believes that the RBL is vital to communities across the country and it is important that on Remembrance Day we remember and honour our fallen war heroes

Following today’s (November 11) Armistice Day, this weekend’s Remembrance Sunday is an opportunity to remember the service and sacrifice of our Armed Forces, veterans and their families.

The Royal British Legion was founded in 1921 as a voice for the ex-service community and is a charity that provides financial, social and emotional support to members and veterans of the British Armed Forces, their families and dependants.

From those who served in the First World War to the men and women of our Armed Forces today, the Royal British Legion believes that nobody should suffer for having served others.

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Oliver Morton (aged 1) at Knaresborough Castle by the poppy trees ready for Remembrance Day

The Royal British Legion is the country’s largest Armed Forces charity with over 180,000 members, 110,000 volunteers and a network of partners and charities helping them to give support wherever and whenever it is needed.

David Houlgate is the Vice Chair of the Knaresborough Royal British Legion and he believes that the RBL is vital to communities across the country and it is important that on Remembrance Day, we remember and honour our fallen war heroes.

He said: “The Royal British Legion remains at the heart of a national network that continues to support our Armed Forces community so we are doing what’s always been done for the past 100 years, helping serving members of the armed forces, ex-serving members and their families in times of need.

“The support we give is as relevant today as it was after the First World War.

Kaja Maryniewska in the bandstand at Spa Gardens in Ripon decorated with hundreds of poppies

“Every year we lead the nation in the act of Remembrance, commemorating and honouring those who have served and sacrificed.

“We remember those who lost their lives on active service in all conflicts since the beginning of the First World War, as well as all those who have served and their families.

“Historically, whenever Britain goes to war to defend our nation or is involved in other operations, the RBL has to be prepared to support not only wounded servicemen and women but also bereaved families in the aftermath.

“As long as our nation has armed forces, the RBL will always be needed.”

Approximately 1,500,000 British servicemen and women have been killed on active duty since 1914 and many more wounded and maimed.

For countless individuals and families, the RBL has been a lifeline and without this support, it would be hard to imagine how many of them would have been able to cope.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, many charities including the RBL have suffered due to the lack of fundraising opportunities and this year, they are looking to bounce back with the sale of poppies on the 100th anniversary of the Poppy Appeal as sellers return to our streets to help raise vital funds for the charity.

David added: “Like many charitable organisations, the RBL has struggled to fully function during the pandemic. From actively visiting and supporting anyone needing help, to fundraising. it has been a difficult and trying time for the RBL.

“Every poppy counts and any contribution will make a real difference to the lives of the Armed Forces community who have given so much for their country.”

Harrogate, Knaresborough, Ripon and Wetherby are just four of approximately 2,500 Royal British Legion branches across the United Kingdom and it is important that they continue to be supported, especially following a tough 20 months.

David added: “There is a real danger that branches such as Knaresborough may not see out another five years, let alone another 100 as it is now down to just a handful of active members.

“It’s not a very large branch but it has a dedicated core of hard working members and it really does punch above its weight, especially during the Poppy Appeal.

“For a market town of some 15,000 inhabitants it raises in excess of £30,000 to help the Legion in its work and there is always a need for new members, especially in the younger age brackets.”

It is still important now that we commemorate Remembrance Day, especially this year on the 100th anniversary of the Royal British Legion and Poppy Appeal.

As a mark of respect and reflection, a two-minute period of silence will be observed throughout the country at 11am on Remembrance Sunday and church services and other ceremonial gatherings will take place during the day.

With the Royal British Legion marking its 100th year, there will be a special Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall on Saturday, November 13 which will remember the military and civilians, the old and young, and the British and Commonwealth men and women who have fought wars, disasters and pandemics to protect and defend Britain.