Poppy Appeal urges public to 'rethink Remembrance'

Screenshot from the RBL video showing young veteran Stewart HarriesImage source, Royal British Legion

This year's Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal is calling on members of the public to recognise younger veterans and serving soldiers.

The charity says people commonly associate Remembrance and the poppy with older, World War Two veterans.

The "rethink Remembrance" campaign will launch with a video installation in London, featuring four videos of young veterans' experiences.

It comes as some charities have said younger veterans are being forgotten.

The Royal British Legion said the aim of the campaign was to challenge common perceptions.

Its survey of 1,000 adults found most only associate the poppy, Remembrance and the charity's work with the two World Wars and elderly veterans.

Only just over a third of those surveyed identified Remembrance with thinking about those who are currently serving.

In the charity's videos, World War Two veterans aged between 88 and 97 tell a story of conflict or injury.

But it is later revealed in the videos that the stories are not their own, and actually belong to the younger veterans or service personnel.

The younger people featured in the videos are:

'Soldiers don't discuss feelings'

Stewart Harris, from Rhyl, served in the 1st Battalion Welsh for 13 years and has post-traumatic stress disorder.

He suffered brain damage and was left blind in his right eye and partially deaf after the Mastiff vehicle he was travelling in was hit by an IED in Afghanistan in 2012.

His story is read in the video by 92-year-old World War Two Royal Naval veteran Roy Miller.

Mr Miller tells the camera: "I was so low, I was shouting at the kids, getting angry at my wife - I begged her to leave me.

"I felt alone, helpless. I was taught that soldiers don't discuss feelings.

"So I walked into the waves. I can still feel the water around my feet. And suddenly, I had this vision of my girls - they saved me.

"I stopped, walked home, and got help."

This year's fundraising target for the Poppy Appeal has been set at a record amount of £43m, and 150,000 collectors will aim to hand out more than 45 million poppies across the country.

Claire Rowcliffe, director of fundraising at the Royal British Legion, said: "Individuals and families from across the generations of our Armed Forces community need the Legion's support, as well as our older veterans.

"When you pin on your poppy, or pause to remember, we're inviting you to rethink Remembrance and who it is you picture when you think of a veteran.

"We hope through our campaign this year we will help people understand who they are supporting when they donate."

The video installation in Paternoster Square, near St Paul's Cathedral, will be open to the public from 27 to 29 October.

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