Portsmouth marks launch of Poppy Appeal with hundreds attending ceremony honouring veterans
HUNDREDS of people fell silent as The Last Post was played to mark the launch of the Poppy Appeal in Portsmouth on Saturday.
Fundraisers from the Royal British Legion, which founded the appeal in 1921, were joined by the Portsmouth Military Wives Choir and the Victory Brass Band in the Cascades Shopping Centre, in Commercial Road.
Last year, fundraising across the city raised more than £100,000, which goes to supporting veterans across the county.
Veteran Kenneth Slater, who served as a stoker on HMS Hermes during Falklands War and HMS Lincoln during the Indonesia–Malaysia conflict, said the sacrifices made by former members of the armed forces had been 'taken for granted' by wider society until recently.
The 74-year-old said: 'People are beginning to realise what our forefathers have done for us.
'Veterans - especially veterans who served in the Far East - were taken for granted for a bit.
'But now people are now more interested.'
Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan, who attended the event, said he was 'confident' that Portsmouth would rise to challenge of raising even more money for the appeal this year.
But the Labour MP said more needed to be done to support veterans and members of the armed forces
He said: 'Survey after survey is telling us that veterans do not feel their contributions are being recognised by society.
'So events like the Poppy Appeal launch are so important
'I'm really pleased that it has been invited to the Cascades in this very special year where we mark the 75th Anniversary of the D-Day landings.'
In 2016, a survey by military charity SSFA found that 85 per cent of working age veterans did not believe they received enough support from society.
Sarah Ferris, Community Fundraiser at the Poppy Appeal, said this year's appeal hoped to focus on attention on all veterans, including those from allied countries across the world.
She said: 'We're delighted with the support the public shows us each year.
'This year, we're asking members of the public to also remember those who served allied countries alongside our own armed forces.'
More than 85 Poppy Appeal organisers co-ordinate fundraising across South Hampshire.