THE longstanding history of Gosport as an armed forces town makes going the extra mile for veterans all the more appreciated.
It is for this reason that the Poppy Appeal, launched on Saturday, is always so well-supported by the town.
Last year, £63,479 was raised for the Royal British Legion in the town, part of a Hampshire-wide figure of £2m.
Organisers are hopeful that the 75th anniversary of D-Day can see this figure smashed by donations this time around,
The mayor of Gosport, Cllr Kathleen Jones, said: ‘The people of Gosport have always been so generous when it comes to charity appeals, as they know that the Royal British Legion do such a wonderful job with the money that is donated.
‘I am proud to be mayor of such a giving town.
‘Look out for the Poppy Appeal collectors as each one will have their own specific reason for collecting.
‘It’s a wonderful appeal and I’m ever so thankful to everybody who has already put money in the pot to help these veterans.’
Cllr Jones received the ceremonial first poppy of the appeal, presented to her by Beaver Alex Ryecroft.
The mayor has also thrown down a challenge to the town – which is for everyone in Gosport to be wearing a poppy ‘by the end of this week.’
Gosport veteran and Invictus Games competitor John Shepherd said: ‘The Poppy Appeal means a lot to veterans and has done for many years.
‘I’m thinking of guys that are true heroes – we’ve got the kit and the protective equipment now, but in those days they had nothing, so to honour them each year is fantastic and so important.
‘You have to remember the people in the past who gave up so much for future generations that follow.
‘For me personally, being in last year’s Invictus Games team, it showed that the donations made to the Poppy Appeal can help serving wounded, injured and sick personnel as well as the veterans who have come before them.
‘The Royal British Legion gave us a chance to represent our country once more.’
Speaking after the event, Andy Brown, chairman of the Royal British Legion’s Gosport branch, said: ‘Even with England playing New Zealand in the rugby this morning we had a great turnout.
‘Seeing the continued support of the public is why we carry on doing this every year; it means so much to everyone involved.’