By John Ensor •
Updated: 09 Nov 2023 • 18:29
Volunteers at Manchester Poppy Day.
THE poppy appeal has been a part of British culture for over a century, but recent events have overshadowed the charity, with many of its volunteers feeling intimidated and threatened.
To Many UK citizens, wearing a poppy is a mark of respect for those who gave their lives to ensure freedom for their country, with many other countries also taking part in the yearly Remembrance Day. There is even a purple poppy, worn as a reminder that even animals were victims of war too.
The poppy was adopted as a symbol of the many who were killed. It was inspired by the poem ‘In Flanders Fields’ by Canadian Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae, who himself lost his life in 1918.
As well as the UK, the poppy movement is widely promoted throughout the Commonwealth: Australia, Barbados, Canada, New Zealand, Pakistan and South Africa. Other countries such as Albania, Ireland, Ukraine, and the US take part.
Despite its long and distinguished history, there has been a series of events that have highlighted a disturbing trend, with many of its volunteers facing intimidation with verbal and even physical attacks.
Reportedly, volunteering for a charity has a positive effect upon the individual, and reinforces mental and physical wellbeing. Despite this, charity volunteers are on the wane in Britain. Earlier this year a report from The Guardian evidenced a sharp decline in England ever since the pandemic struck.
According to figures from the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, those organising or lending a hand to run a charity had fallen by 52 per cent, while statistics for individuals campaigning for a charity told a similar story with a 49 per cent drop.
However, with Remembrance Day this Friday, recent reports could perhaps explain another reason why Poppy volunteers are becoming less visible on the UK’s streets.
UK railway stations in particular has noticed a dearth of poppy volunteers following a spate of hostile encounters, where even war memorials have been attacked by vandals.
Jim Henderson was one such victim, who according to GB News, was selling poppies in Edinburgh’s Waverley Station before being engulfed by a crowd of pro-Palestine demonstrators. The ex-serviceman claimed he was pushed over as well as being punched and kicked.
Such incidents have understandably had a knock-on effect and put many volunteers off. London’s Liverpool Street Station recently saw around 500 protesters, which has led fundraisers to withdraw from the location.
Victoria and Euston Stations tell a similar story, even a giant poppy at King’s Cross station has reportedly been removed.
UK Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak commented to UK media: ‘I am appalled that some poppy sellers — many veterans who are the heart of our collective remembrance each year — have experienced intimidation and abuse when volunteering at train stations.
‘I, like millions across the UK, will be wearing my poppy with pride this weekend. I urge commuters to take a moment to thank the volunteers who support our brave armed forces and buy a poppy,’ he concluded
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Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina.
He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.
This is false news propaganda against Palestinians using such random interactions to highlight another narrative as we’ve seen all over the news. If the Poppy was a symbol for those who gave their lives “unwillingly” then why is the UK Government preventing FREEDOM of speech, marches to protest against the genocide being perpetrated by Israel and funded by the US, UK, France, Germany.
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