Essex Poppy Appeal launch to support the British Armed Forces past and present

Lt Col Eldon Millar presents the first poppy of the campaign to Sam Jack.

Lt Col Eldon Millar presents the first poppy of the campaign to Sam Jack. - Credit: Archant

People in Essex are being urged to wear their poppy with pride to show support for Armed Forces families, who are the focus of the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal 2013.

This call to action came from Sam Jack, a former combat engineer and advanced searcher with 33 Engineer Regiment (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) who launched the appeal at Carver Barracks during a small ceremony last Thursday (October 24).

He told guests that “every poppy helps.”

Sam was presented with the first poppy of the appeal by his old commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Eldon Millar.

Lt Col Millar said: “It is a real privilege to launch this year’s Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal for Essex with Sam as the legion beneficiary. Sam and I served together in Afghanistan and we have both witnessed at first hand the vital role which the Poppy Appeal plays in helping to support members of the Armed Forces both past and present, and our families.

“All of us who currently serve remain extremely grateful to the people of Essex for their continued support which is so fittingly demonstrated by wearing the red poppy.”

Sam Jack, 26 who now lives in Stansted, was injured whilst on tour in Afghanistan in 2009. He was shot in the head and suffered eye and brain injuries.

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The Royal British Legion helped Sam and his family with his compensation claim. As thanks to the legion for its help, Sam has become an ambassador for the cause and has given presentations and talks to let people know what the organisation does and how it support the lives of service personnel and their famillies.

The fund-raising target in Essex this year is £1 million, which will go towards the legion’s national target of £37 million to continue its vital work delivering direct, practical care and support to the Armed Forces community.

RBL community fundraiser for Essex, Tracey Hall, said: “We support the entire Armed Forces community past and present, but families are at the heart of the Poppy Appeal 2013.

“We recognise the strength of mothers, fathers, partners and kids in Armed Forces families, who serve alongside their loved ones every single day, and often need practical care and advice too.

“We’re encouraging people to dig deep for the Poppy Appeal, so we can continue providing this vital support to individuals whether they’re still serving, transitioning back to civilian life or have left the Services, but importantly to their dependents too.”

The legion provides wide ranging, and practical support to Armed Forces families in need, including crisis grants, family breaks, benefits and money advice and at times sadly, inquest advice.

Every poppy helps raise the £1.6 million needed by the legion each week to deliver practical help and advice to Armed Forces community.