Huge honour for Poppy Appeal volunteers who raised £600,000

Louise and Chris Purcell, who run Portsmouth Poppy Appeal
Louise and Chris Purcell, who run Portsmouth Poppy Appeal
Picture: Lewis Stickley/PA Wire

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THEY have raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for veterans in need of support through the Poppy Appeal.

Now Louise and Chris Purcell will join members of the royal family and government ministers at the Festival of Remembrance in the Royal Albert Hall.

In just eight years the married couple have raised around £592,000 – including around £107,000 last year alone.

They will represent all Poppy Appeal collectors in the country by taking part in the televised ceremony on Saturday.

Louise, 50, a pharmacy manager, said: ‘We’re immensely honoured to be chosen to represent the Royal British Legion.

‘In all the years we’ve watched it, to be actually taking part, it’s such an honour – we’re totally over the moon.

‘When I first took it on I was just asked to stand in for someone because there wasn’t an organiser.

‘Nine years later I’m still doing it, every year I say I can’t do it again but I do.’

Together they will walk down the steps in the hall as poppies drop from the ceiling.

Veteran Chris, 57, of Adames Road, Fratton, got support in the form of food vouchers from the Royal British Legion.

He was aboard HMS Sheffield when she was hit by an Argentine missile on May 4, 1982, killing 20 men.

Chris, parade marshal for the Portsmouth Poppy Appeal, suffered post-traumatic stress disorder, which was only diagnosed in 2005.

He previously took part in the remembrance festival in 1992 with Falklands veterans.

Chris said: ‘The feeling when you stand on the steps, the hairs stand up on the back of your neck with the support you’re getting from the audience. We’re just delighted with it.

‘It’s an occasion that will stay with you for the rest of your life.

‘We’re thankful for the Royal British Legion for selecting us to do it.

‘I’m very humbled. The British Legion helped me when I left the service and I want to pay something back.’

Backed by a team of 60 volunteers, the pair are out collecting solidly for two weeks to raise as much as they can.

Clare Peppiatt, community fundraiser for South Hampshire, nominated Chris and Louise to take part.

‘I’m so very proud of Chris and Louise, and their achievements over the years,’ Clare said. ‘They work so hard for the Poppy Appeal every year and they are real ambassadors for the Legion.

‘Their whole life revolves around the Poppy Appeal and the Legion.

‘The Legion helped Chris when he was in need, and now he wants to give back to the charity by tirelessly fundraising.

‘Their appearance at the Festival of Remembrance is the perfect opportunity to celebrate who they are and what they do for the benefit of others.’