Bridlington’s record poppy drive

Bridlington Remembrance Service held at the War Memorial.'The Parade to the War Memorial started from Station Approch at 10:30 --'NBFP PA1445-14x'Parade to the War Memorial
Bridlington Remembrance Service held at the War Memorial.'The Parade to the War Memorial started from Station Approch at 10:30 --'NBFP PA1445-14x'Parade to the War Memorial

Bridlington really showed it cared with a record poppy appeal collection of more than £23,000.

Beating last years figure by at least £5,000 the money is still coming in and it’s the highest for decades, possibly the highest ever.

People in the town and surrounding areas bought more than 14,000 poppies, 500 poppy crosses, around 30 wreaths plus related British Legion remembrance items.

Town Mayor and services veteran, Shelagh Finlay, said it is a magnificent achievement.

“I have been humbled by the support of veterans and supporters who were official poppy collectors at local supermarkets collecting points and elsewhere. As a veteran myself my husband and I also did stints at Promenades shopping centre and came away with full collection boxes and lots of good will for the Centenary poppy appeal. It is a magnificent achievement.”

Barry Moody, Royal British Legion branch president said it had been exceptional: “Publicity surrounding the centenary of the First World War, the recent pulling out of Afghanistan and the poppies at the Tower of London means people are focusing on remembrance, it’s just a great pity they have to.”

None of it could have been achieved without the work of Royal Navy veteran Martin Barmby, the branch poppy appeal organiser and a band of around 25 volunteers, among them veterans also those from the town’s cadet force.

Martin and three volunteers were responsible for ordering, supplying, and topping up supplies to ensure poppies and other items were always available, and collecting the proceeds. It represented around a month’s work. Between them they delivered more than 120 collection tins and boxes to shops, businesses, schools, cafés, pubs and other outlets as far north as Bempton, east as Boynton and south as Carnab – in just one day – although some needed second visits if they were closed. They handled requests for extra tins or for tins to be emptied, distributed around 30 wreaths and more than 500 poppy crosses, not just for Bridlington’s Garden of Remembrance at the War Memorial but for use on family graves as far afield as Sledmere, Rudston and Barmston.

More volunteers and veterans manned stands at the Promenades shopping centre, Morrisons, Tesco and some on the streets. They started off with 6000 poppies and quickly needed 6,000 more to make sales of around 12,000.

Unmanned collecting boxes needed a an extra 1,000, and 10 children’s boxes containing a variety of related items, key rings, erasers , rulers and other goods were gone in just over a week.

Among individual highlights were the pupils at Boynton School who made their own display of more than 300 pottery poppies which are being sold for the appeal.

Barmston Church held its first Remembrance Sunday service for years, and donated the collection to the appeal.

“All that money goes to the appeal. None of the volunteers, including local services cadets, take any expenses, even though they are entitled to,” said Martin who also ran last year‘s appeal but this year’s will be his last.

He is handing the job over to ex-Royal Navy veteran and volunteer Roy “Smudge“ Smith.“I have found it very worthwhile but extremely difficult having a full-time job and a family as well.

“Roy is very enthusiastic and recently retired and having helped this year knows what its involved,” said Martin who left Bridlington in 1986 to serve 22 years in the RN before returning home in 2008 .

“I know the Royal British Legion will be there for my family long after I have gone.”