The way that our nation remembers and gives thanks to our Armed Forces will feel very different this year but an occasion we must still mark.
The Royal British Legion have launched the 2020 Poppy Appeal with COVID-19 in mind, as many volunteers will be unable to take part on this occasion.
The Poppies in the Post scheme allows us to request 20 poppies free of charge which can be shared among friends and neighbours, not forgetting to make a donation to support our veterans. The Legion’s website also has a Printable Poppy which can be displayed around the house or in the window.
Additionally, the Royal British Legion have confirmed that supermarkets including Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Aldi and Asda, online retailers such as Amazon and eBay, as well as Lloyds Bank and Santander are supporting this year’s Poppy Appeal with cashless donation options. Sainsbury’s are also offering customers the opportunity to add a donation to their shopping bill.
In previous years I would find it deeply moving to walk through the Field of Remembrance in Westminster Abbey, where people were able to plant a wooden cross with a poppy in the centre, with a hand-written message of remembrance, perhaps a tribute to a loved one.
In 2020 the Field is being arranged on the Royal British Legion’s website: www.britishlegion.org.uk with messages being typed on computers, mobile phones and tablets. However, while there are many differences in its organisation, the importance and scale of our thanks remains as strong as ever.
The large crowds we are used to being part of at services in Crawley, and to watching on television in London, are also being affected by coronavirus. At the Cenotaph on Whitehall, around 10,000 people usually gather each Remembrance Sunday. Unfortunately, for the first time, this year’s event will be more limited, however, representatives from the royal family, government, and Armed Forces will attend.
Next month’s commemorations will be all the more poignant as they come in the year of the 75th anniversary of VE Day and VJ Day, signifying victories in Europe and over Japan, bringing the Second World War to an end.
Ahead of VE Day I was honoured to be asked to speak at the St John’s Church celebration service. While this was delivered as a video message to comply with COVID-19 restrictions, my words were no less heart-felt.
Information on how we can mark this year’s Poppy Appeal, including requesting Poppies in the Post and making a donation to the Royal British Legion online or by text message, is available on my website: www.henrysmith.info
Henry Smith MP