HAVANT mayor Paul Buckley spoke of his pride in his fellow countrymen and women as he was the first person to buy a poppy in the town.
The retired Royal Navy officer threw his support behind the Royal British Legion’s poppy appeal, which raised £24,000 last year in Havant.
He said: ‘It’s important and feels a great honour.
‘It’s extremely important we support the poppy appeal and remember all those who died in service to their country.’
Olive Rush has been organising the RBL poppy appeal in Havant since 1979 when she took over from her mother Margaret Windbank, who had been fundraising for more than two decades herself.
‘It’s important for people who are in need,’ she said.
‘The conflicts now are worse than those we had before.’
Jim Kellaway, 69, from Bedhampton, came to The Plaza to support the appeal.
His grandfather William Kellaway died in 1916 at the Battle of the Somme during the First World War. He was buried at Warloy-Baillon in France. He said: ‘My father was three years old when he went. He followed him down the road and my grandfather said “You can’t come to work with me son”.
‘That was the last time he saw him.
‘Seventy years later I took him to see his father’s grave and he just broke down and cried.
‘He had kept that memory for 70 years. So the point is, it’s still relevant to people today.’
Members of the RBL Riders’ branch rode on their motorbikes to the launch and Mayor Buckley got to sit on one of the trikes.
One of the riders, Elaine Peacock, 50, from Gosport, said: ‘The appeal is important to support our troops past and present with the increase in post-traumatic stress disorder and homelessness.’
Malcolm Burgess, 69, from Warren Park, who was the standard bearer, said: ‘If people forget it, then they don’t know the reason they are here.’
Ken Smith, president of Havant RBL, said: ‘A lot of guys did not come back.
‘It’s most important we keep the memorial for those who gave their lives for their country.’