Poppy Appeal 2013: Pop concert begins fundraising bid

The Poppy Girls
Image caption The Poppy Girls sang this year's official Poppy Appeal single

A pop concert for armed forces families has kicked off the 2013 Poppy Appeal, which has a target of raising £37m.

Acts including The Saturdays, Union J, Tich, and Luminites took part in the event at RAF Northolt in west London on Thursday evening.

Organisers at the Royal British Legion said military families were at the heart of the appeal for 2013.

The Duchess of Cornwall also visited The Poppy Factory in Richmond, south-west London, where poppies are made.

Ahead of her visit, The Poppy Factory announced that the duchess would become its patron.

Poppy appeal song

The duchess was tasked with assembling one of the millions of poppies which are handmade by disabled veterans at the factory for Remembrance Day events.

Image caption The duchess assembled a poppy at the factory

She found putting a poppy together "quite fiddly work", before helping put the finishing touches to a wreath which will be laid at a memorial by her husband, the Prince of Wales, on Remembrance Sunday.

The charity's chief executive Melanie Waters said: "The patronage of the duchess will help us to continue this work and to highlight the increasing need to support our disabled veterans into meaningful civilian employment."

The Poppy Factory uses its expertise to help disabled veterans into work with many businesses throughout the UK.

The Poppy Girls sang this year's official Poppy Appeal single The Call (No Need To Say Goodbye).

The group of five daughters of active service personnel was assembled after a national talent search.

The Legion needs £1.6m a week to fund its work giving help, advice and support to the armed forces community.

L/Cpl Cassidy Little, 32, of 42 Commando Royal Marines, is among those due to attend the concert.

He benefitted from a theatre project supported by the Royal British Legion after he lost his lower right limb in an IED explosion in Afghanistan in May 2011.

He said: "The theatre project funded by the Royal British Legion was a turning point in my recovery.

"While the medical teams put my body back together, taking part in the play gave me back my self-esteem and confidence when it was at its lowest ebb."

'Dig deep'

George Shelley, of X Factor boy band Union J, and who has a brother serving in the Royal Marines, said the poppy was a "symbol of pride".

Royal British Legion fundraising director Charles Byrne said: "We support the entire armed forces community past and present, but families are at the heart of the Poppy Appeal in 2013.

"We recognise the strength of mothers, fathers, partners and kids in armed forces families, who serve alongside their loved ones every single day and often need practical care and advice too.

"We're encouraging people to dig deep for the Poppy Appeal so we can continue providing this vital support to individuals whether they're still serving, transitioning back to civilian life or have left the services, but importantly to their dependents too."

The Poppy Appeal in Scotland was launched by Craig and Charlie Reid from The Proclaimers in Edinburgh on Wednesday.

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