FURIOUS parents and MPs have hit back at ‘disgraceful’ residents who bullied a group of children collecting for this year’s Poppy Appeal.
More than a dozen youngsters from the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Army Cadet Force braved cold weather on Sunday to raise funds for the Royal British Legion.
Some bloke was poking them and shouting abuse at them first thing in the morning. It was a disgrace.Misha Sugrue-Gee
But instead of being supported, the children faced a torrent of verbal abuse from a section of shoppers in Commercial Road, Portsmouth, and online, on the Spotted Portsmouth’s Facebook page.
The page posted a status criticising some of the children for chewing gum during their four-and-a-half-hour collection, branding them ‘chavs’.
But the cadets’ outraged leader, Misha Sugrue-Gee, has come to the charitable children’s defence.
She said: ‘There’s so much negativity around young people that even when they are doing good things people only talk about the bad points.
‘They are constantly scrutinised at poppy-selling and at the Remembrance parade for not replicating soldiers exactly – people forget they are only 13 to 18 and only parade for a few hours twice, sometimes once a week, in the evening.
‘On Sunday they had abuse from a few members of the public for poppy-selling and a barrage from the random crazy people that roam around town – and they still want to volunteer to do it. Some bloke was poking them and shouting abuse at them first thing in the morning. It was a disgrace.’
Lisa Mallinson, 38, of Fratton, has two sons in the cadets; her youngest, Kian, 13, was collecting on Sunday.
She said: ‘It doesn’t matter if someone is chewing gum, there should be more people that praise the youngsters for doing a good deed rather than slate them.’
Flick Drummond, Portsmouth South MP, was disappointed by the news and said: ‘These young people put in huge amounts of time collecting for the Poppy Appeal which raises money for our veterans. Many of these cadets go into the armed forces themselves and should receive our admiration for serving the community.’
Penny Mordaunt, Portsmouth North MP, added the city was ‘proud’ of all the youngsters.
The former armed forces minister said: ‘Be in no doubt, you do a great and good thing in the time you give, and we thank you, and we take great pride in all you do.’
Spotted Portsmouth did not comment about its Facebook post.