Sunday, 28 October 2007

Legions of volunteers?

The Poppy Appeal is always something I've supported - right from my days at school when appreciation of what the poppies signified was secondary to the excitement of the interruption to lessons when the Poppy tray came round, the thrill when the ones with a green leaf on them were introduced, and the inevitable tears when one classmate (and there was always at least one) impaled themselves on the little pin.

As my understanding of the significance of the appeal grew, so has my support for it. November wouldn't be the same without the comforting familiarity of watching the Remembrance Day service from a grey and overcast Cenotaph in London.

Last year, the newspapers were full of stories like this one about the dwindling number of collectors on the streets, meaning millions of pounds of missed takings for the appeal. The same story does the rounds year after year, but last November as I stood reading about it in a newspaper (at Vauxhall station, in case you needed that detail) I resolved that next year I would do my bit and volunteer as a 'Poppy Person'.

So, I filled in my details on the Royal British Legion website earlier this year, and waited for a response. I had a voicemail message from them, saying my details had been passed on to the Worcester Park coordinator and I would be hearing from him shortly. That was at the beginning of the month, but no contact came.

Last Friday, I got back in touch with the Legion, got the number of the Worcester Park coordinator and called him directly. He had never had my details passed on to him, and in any case Worcester Park, apparently, has its complement of poppy people for this year - which is a good thing. The bad news is that the 'float' has been cancelled for lack of response. So it was 'thanks but no thanks' for my interest.

I shall put my name forward again for next year. No doubt the sames stories of shortages will be in the papers again in November. Let's hope that next year, the Legion get their act together and make use of the help that is offered to them.
In the meantime, I'll still be wearing my poppy with pride.