Struggling to find poppies in Eastbourne? Organisational problems at town’s Royal British Legion

Eastbourne’s annual Poppy Appeal has been smaller than usual this year, with supply problems and a lack or volunteers, some people have struggled to buy poppies.
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There have been organisational problems at Eastbourne’s Royal British Legion branch, but the reasons behind the scaled down rollout of the local Poppy Appeal remain unclear.

Reports on social media suggest some members of the public have struggled to find poppies in the usual places, such as supermarkets, where there would usually be sellers most days in the run up to Remembrance Day.

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In previous years, before the Covid-19 pandemic, the Eastbourne Poppy Appeal had been a great success with organiser Alan Young coming very close to reaching the £100,000 target he had set. He has since resigned from the legion and following the issues with supply, Eastbourne does not look set to reach anywhere near the amount of previous years.

Poppy selling in Eastbourne town centrePoppy selling in Eastbourne town centre
Poppy selling in Eastbourne town centre

However, members of the community, including Eastbourne MP Caroline Ansell, have stepped in to try and save the day and make sure poppies are available for all Eastbourne residents who want to buy them. They were out in force in the town centre last weekend and boxes of poppies are now popping up in supermarkets around the town.

Sonja Bateup, Royal British Legion community fundraiser for East Sussex, said: “Eastbourne has a smaller than normal Poppy Appeal running this year due to organiser health issues.

“We do however still have cover in the area with a stand at Aldi, a stand at M&S on the November 12 and 13 and some street collections on November 6.

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“There will be more boxes going out on the week beginning November 8 due to new volunteers coming forward to help – it’s fantastic to see new volunteers coming to us at this time.

“We will always welcome more volunteers in Eastbourne, so if anyone does wish to volunteer going forward they can make contact with us and we can put them in touch with the organiser for any future events and appeals. We expect Eastbourne to have events through the next year which we will advertise and publish details on as they are confirmed.”

Eastbourne MP Caroline Ansell has been out in the town centre selling poppies last weekend (November 6) and says while the issues experienced this year have been ‘disappointing’ she was impressed with the support from local people.

Did you buy a poppy from our MP at the weekend? Spot yourself in the picture gallery

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Mrs Ansell said: “It is very disappointing and frustrating that The Poppy Appeal has not had the same roll out this year as historically.

“What hasn’t changed is the generosity of spirit of people in Eastbourne.

“On Saturday I spent time in the town centre with Cllr Colin Belsey, Cllr Penny di Cara and the Conservative team spreading poppies and collecting for the British Legion. Tins were full at the close of the day. Hearts too.

“We heard just some of the very personal stories which sit behind our season of Remembrance and I was very moved by the loss and sacrifice described to me.

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“There is still time ahead of the 11th of the 11th and indeed Remembrance Sunday itself. My team has stepped in to deliver as many boxes to shops and businesses as we can and I urge everyone to look out for any opportunity to donate as the funds raised really do make a difference.

“Those who have served our country - and their families who also pay a high price to protect and defend our freedom - need us to show how highly we value them.

“While collecting, several people also volunteered their time as well as their money. If you can be part of the appeal next year, please get in touch with me by email or call my office so I can connect you with the organisers.

“There are important questions to be answered about the Appeal this year which I have taken up but at this moment, please give and be part of the Remembrance events to come.”

Find out more about the town’s Remembrance services here and you can learn more about the Poppy Appeal and its relevance here