THOUSANDS of poppies have been delivered to shops and other outlets across Hartlepool as the town gears up for its bid to raise more cash than ever for British troops and their families.
More than 250 boxes of the commemorative flowers have been distributed to shops, petrol stations, schools, and community centres to ensure everyone in Hartlepool is able to wear their poppy with pride.
Campaign organiser, Sian Cameron, began the task of delivering the poppies to the 250 outlets across the town earlier this week after announcing that she planned to get a head start to be ready for the official launch tomorrow.
Sian, 30, says she hopes that having the poppies in place in good time will help her beat last year’s record total of almost £46,000.
She said: “I wanted to be sure that I had all the poppies delivered early so that, come Saturday, it’ll be all systems go and everyone in Hartlepool who wants a poppy can get one.
“I want to give all the outlets that are selling the poppies on behalf of the campaign in Hartlepool the best chance possible to sell as many as they can so we can raise as much money as possible.
“Obviously I’d love to beat last year’s total and I’m confident we can do that. Hartlepool people are incredibly generous and they never fail to get behind the campaign and dig deep to support it.”
Sian, who lives in Wolviston and works as a management secretary, also told the Mail that 30 new outlets have offered to take poppies this year and make them available to staff and customers.
The launch of the poppy campaign in Hartlepool will also see an army of volunteers including the town’s Rotary Club staff sales pitches in the town’s major supermarkets.
Also pitching in are Army Cadets from Hartlepool’s three Detachments of the Cleveland Army Cadet Force, who will be selling poppies to shoppers in the Middleton Grange Shopping Centre.
The Cadets will be led by Staff Sergeant Keith Barry, 53, who is a poppy sales veteran of more than 20 years and served as a soldier in the Territorial Army for nine years in the 1990s.
Keith completed two tours of duty in Bosnia during his time in the TA, losing comrades in battle along the way, and he praised his young recruits for their enthusiasm to help the campaign.
He told the Mail: “It’s good to see them giving up their own personal time to help ex-forces people like myself. Many of the Cadets have relatives who have served in the forces and all 60 have volunteered.”
The launch of the poppy sales campaign in Hartlepool links with the national launch of the annual sales drive led by the Royal British Legion, which raises millions of pounds each year in the run-up to Remembrance Sunday to help serving and former service men and women and their families.