Poppy Appeal focuses on helping the Iraq and Afghanistan generation

THE Afghanistan and Iraq generation of the British Armed Forces should be the focus of this year’s Poppy Appeal, according to serving soldiers.

Welsh Guard Craig Adams and Royal Welsh Sergeant Ian Rogers said comrades returning from the war zones and their families need the support of their fellow countrymen and women.

At yesterday’s launch of this year’s Poppy People campaign in Cardiff, both told the Echo the Poppy Appeal is as relevant today as it was when it began almost a century ago.

“This year’s Poppy Appeal is all about helping the Afghan and Iraq generation of the British Armed Forces and their families today and for the rest of their lives,” said Sergeant Adams, from Llanedeyrn, Cardiff.

The 29 year old, who has been with the Welsh Guards for 10 years and who served in Iraq in 2005, joined Sergeant Rogers, a three-time Iraq veteran, for the launch at St John’s Church in Cardiff city centre.

Both appealed for youngsters to step forward and become Poppy People, who will sell poppies and raise vital funds for this year’s appeal.

Sgt Rogers, 39, who has served with the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Welsh for 20 years, said: “We are here to get as many volunteers as possible to come forward to help out with the 2009 Poppy Appeal in Cardiff and surrounding areas.

“The Poppy Appeal is close to my heart as a serving member of the British Army. There are a growing number of serving and ex-service personnel eligible for assistance from the British Legion and they need help to raise as much money as possible.”

Sgt Adams added: “Having served in Iraq, I have seen colleagues who have been helped by the British Legion. Many people don’t realise that they support serving personnel and their families and this is a key message I want to give out.”

Syd Nash, county Poppy Appeal coordinator, said while there are some 300,000 Poppy People in the UK, new collectors are always needed. At least 40 new fundraisers are needed in Cardiff.

To remind everyone of the importance of the Poppy Appeal, Cardiff council has placed 600 large poppies in trees and at key points around the city centre, including St Mary Street and outside Cardiff Central Station.

The Reverend Keith Kimber, vicar of St John’s Church and chaplain for the Cardiff and Vale of Glamorgan branch of the Royal British Legion, said: “The early presence of big poppies in such numbers is, for all citizens, a welcome visual reminder to think of those who gave their lives in wars past.

“The largest tree in St John’s churchyard is also adorned with big poppies. On October 31 at noon it will be sheltering the city’s memorial garden of crosses and witness the legion’s annual ceremony of remembrance to the fallen.

“On that occasion we will be thinking especially of today’s young servicemen and women being killed and maimed on active service right now in Afghanistan and grieving that the price of peace and justice is still so costly in human lives.”

The annual Wales Festival of Remembrance in aid of the Poppy Appeal takes place at 7pm on Saturday, October 31, at St David’s Hall, Cardiff. And the National Day of Remembrance ceremony will take place on Sunday, November 8, at the Wales National War Memorial, Cathays Park, Cardiff.