06:21PM, Tuesday 19 January 2021
The Maidenhead branch of the Royal British Legion (RBL) says it is ‘delighted’ after raising more than £14,000 for the armed forces during a disruptive fundraising year.
RBL Maidenhead secretary Ray Williams says that although the total is shy of normal years – in which the Legion would raise upwards of £60,000 – it is still a healthy total after a lack of face-to-face poppy appeal activity.
Each year, the branch stands in the High Street and distributes collection boxes to businesses across town, all in aid of the RBL Poppy Appeal.
Virus restrictions halted many events in 2020 – including Remembrance services – and also forced Ray and his team to abandon normal methods of raising money. However, it still ended up raising £14,692.
Ray added that the Legion headquarters had prepared members for a potential 75 per cent reduction in donations.
“I don’t know how well [others] have done, but we thought we did pretty well,” Ray said.
“If you take away our face-to-face fundraising, it just goes to show how much that brings in each year. You can see how much we rely on that.
“But nevertheless, it is what it is, and we are pleased with what we have achieved.”
Ray is waiting on Sainsburys, in Providence Place, to update him on how much it raised through its own poppy appeal, in aid of the RBL.
As well as being sent out to shops and businesses, poppy collection boxes were also at schools, which Ray reserved special mention for.
“The schools really did excellently. £350 [raised] in a school was not unusual,” Ray said, adding it was important for youngsters to be aware of the appeal.
The Maidenhead branch is now, along with many others, preparing for the RBL’s 100th birthday this year, which it will celebrate on May 15.
Ray does not expect too much to go ahead on this date but hoped his team would be able to mark the occasion safely, adding more details on potential celebrations could be announced soon.
As the country continues its battle with COVID-19, the RBL member pointed out the role of the armed forces in assisting with the virus effort.
“You quite often hear some people say: ‘we aren’t fighting anyone’ – but the contributions the armed forces are making to the COVID fight is enormous at the moment,” Ray said.
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