EAST PRESTON’S branch of the Poppy Appeal has started 2015 with a record-breaking donation of £30,000.
The bank-busting windfall, made by the members of the East Preston and Kingston Royal British Legion, left the village’s Poppy Appeal organiser, Ann James, in a state of shock.
Ann said: “I was absolutely flabbergasted. I never expected to have that much money being donated.
“This is the biggest single donation that we have ever had.”
In an average year, the village’s Poppy Appeal tends to generate about £10,000, with last year’s raising an impressive £11,500.
Ann, who took over the role of organiser from her late husband Eric, after he died in 2002, said the donation had provided a tremendous boost to the cause.
However, she did feel that this year’s eventual total would be extremely hard – if not impossible – to match.
“We are never ever, ever going to get that cash amount again, unless someone is going to die and leave us £30,000 for the Poppy Appeal in East Preston in their will,” she admitted.
The money had been building in a bank account with the Royal British Legion for a number of years.
However, as pressure piled on for it to be put to good use, members of the branch decided to pluck for the Poppy Appeal, instead of donating it to a regional headquarters.
Legion secretary Alan Hultquist was one of those who presented the cheque to the appeal.
He said he and all the other members agreed that they wanted to see the money to go towards helping as many local people as possible and not for it to simply go into another bank account controlled by the British Legion HQ, where they would have no idea how the money was going to be spent.
He said: “Ann was overwhelmed when we gave her the cheque. She was speechless.
“We know that the money will go to aiding the homeless. It goes to people who have been ex-servicemen who have not got a home and roof over their head, who are stuck in poor times – who need help after leaving the military or coming back from tour.”
He added: “It’s just a positive way that we can make sure the cash goes to the right place, rather than head office.”
Ann, of Somerset Road, is now looking forward to this year’s fundraiser, although she admits that the workload is often a daunting prospect.
She said that it was not just the Remembrance period that volunteers like herself needed to get to grips with.
Quite often, the appeal’s services would be called upon throughout the year.