Veteran who has dedicated 25 years to Royal British Legion in memory of father and grandfather urges shoppers to support First World War centenary poppy appeal

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A Stretford veteran who has dedicated 25 years to fundraising for the Royal British Legion in honour of his father and grandfather who served in the First and Second World Wars, has launched this year’s Poppy Appeal at Stretford Mall.

Carl Horne, 71, from Stretford, is urging shoppers to dig deep to support this year’s Poppy Appeal by contributing to collections at the shopping centre, as the nation marks 100 years since the end of the First World War in 1918.

The Royal British Legion’s fundraising target for Manchester is £1 million, which will go towards the charity’s biggest ever national target of £50 million to continue its vital work supporting to the Armed Forces community.

This year’s appeal is particularly poignant as 2018 marks 100 years since the end of the First World War. The Royal British Legion wants people to wear their poppies with pride to back its ‘Thank You’ movement, to recognise the entire First World War generation who served, sacrificed and contributed in other ways.

Launching the appeal at Stretford Mall, Mr Horne, who lives in Stretford and spent three years in the Royal Army Medical Corps with the Territorial Army, said the military is in his blood which is why he’s passionate about raising funds for the Poppy Appeal.

As well as being a Royal British Legion member, Mr Horne, is also secretary of the Stretford Ex-Services Branch Association, which supports the British Legion Poppy Appeal each year. He said: “My generation, who are in their 70s, we remember it because of our grandparents. My grandad Charles Horne fought in it and my grandmother lived through it.

“My grandad signed up in Plymouth in 1916 and served with the Middlesex and Sussex regiments. I believe he was wounded, not seriously as he stayed in the army. He eventually transferred to the Royal Army Pay Corps and stayed in until 1922.

“My dad Joseph Charles Horne served in the Royal Artillery and later the Paras which was at the time called the Royal Army Air Corps. He was a cockney and part of the TA when the Second World War broke out. He was posted to one of the islands around Scotland in preparation for a potential German attack.

“They were asking for volunteers to join the Army Air Corps and he ended up in Manchester training at the Ringway Airport.

“He met my mum and that’s how our roots were laid here. My dad went on to join what became the Parachute Regiment, and at the end of the war was in Austria helping to prevent a Russian advance.

“There was no conflict it was more about having a presence. After that the Paras were sent to serve in Palestine for two years before coming out.

“I joined the TA Army Medical Corps 207 in 1981, and was based at the unit on Kings Road in Old Trafford until 1984. I did a big exercise in what was then West Germany in 1982.

“I was a HGV driver and they were crying out for them. I was inspired to go in by my grandad and dad.

“My kids had grown up and I’d always felt like I should follow suit. I also had two uncles who had served in the army so the military is in my family’s blood.

“It’s a big part of my life which is why I’ll always support it, especially the Poppy Appeal.

“It’s very important. Without the funds from the appeal the Royal British Legion wouldn’t be able to offer the support it does. We put a lot of hours in and I hope people down at the mall can support us.”

Stretford Mall centre manager Gareth Wilkins said: “We are proud to support The Royal British Legion as it continues to raise vital funds to support the Armed Forces community.

“We urge all of our staff and shoppers to support the Poppy Appeal and acknowledge the sacrifices made by so many, on this important centenary year.”

In the last year the generosity of the British public helped the Legion raise more than £875,000 in Manchester. The Legion uses donations in many ways including providing crisis grants, researching the long lasting impact of blast injuries on the body, lobbying the government on issues that affect our community, sport and art based recovery programmes and advising on benefits and money issue.

Royal British Legion Community Fundraising Manager for the North West and Northern Ireland Alan Whitmore said: “Everyone has a connection to the First World War, and we all have a reason to say ‘Thank You’ for the legacy that extraordinary generation left for us.”

“The First World War left countless legacies that positively impact our lives today, from ground breaking social change and timeless works of art to pioneering innovations. As we come to the end of the First World War Centenary now is the time to come together in our communities and say ‘Thank You.’

“This Poppy Appeal wear your poppy with pride to support the Armed Forces community past and present. Every donation received will make a real difference to the lives of Service men and women, veterans and their loved ones.”

A Poppy Appeal stand will be in place at Streford Mall for the next two weeks which will also be able to provide information about the work of the Royal British Legion.

From supporting veterans and their families in debt and emergency situations to providing breaks for service families, the legion is a vital support network for the Armed Forces community.

Carl, a retired HGV driver, said: “The legion do a lot for ex-servicemen and women, as well as their families. There is so much help and support they provide that people don’t realise.

“They look after ex-soldiers who’ve had a big operation but have no one to look after them. They do all different things such as small repairs.

“If your gas stove breaks down they will help you get it repaired or replace it. If a lock on your door or window is broken they’ll fix it free of charge.

“If you can’t climb a ladder to change a lightbulb they’ll send someone out who can.

This all costs money to provide it free of charge so without the Poppy Appeal and public support none of this would exist.

“This is why I’ve been volunteering for 25 years. It means a lot to me to help ex-servicemen and women who have fallen on hard times.”

During a recent visit to the Imperial War Museum North in Stretford, Carl was heartened to see so many schoolchildren there learning about the First World War and he is confident that those who made the ultimate sacrifice will never be forgotten.

He said: “My branch met recently at the museum and they were doing a remembrance event because it’s the centenary of the last year of the First World War and what I noticed was that a lot of schools turned up in coaches.

“They know what it’s about and I think the younger generation are a lot more savvy now. The Poppy Appeal is a lot more publicised.

“Children see more things on the television and the legion does a lot more I think to bring it to people’s attention.”

The Royal British Legion’s Director of Fundraising Claire Rowcliffe said: “During the Poppy Appeal 2018 we are calling on the nation to say ‘Thank You’ to the First World War generation, not just the British Armed Forces, but those who fought alongside them from today’s Commonwealth and the countless men, women and children who played their part of the home front.

“The work of the Legion is as relevant and vital today as it was in the aftermath of the First World War when the charity was founded. The donation for your poppy will help the Legion support today’s Armed Forces community through hardships, injury and bereavements.

Generations of the Armed Forces have continued to serve and sacrifice since the First World War, and we recognise and thank them all for their contribution.

“This Poppy Appeal we have set our highest ever target at £50 million. The Legion’s work is entirely dependent on the public’s generous support – so please wear your poppy with pride and dig deep, knowing that you are supporting our Armed Forces community.”

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