East Durham Poppy Appeal celebrates 60th anniversary

(left to right) Belle Hartley, Don and Margaret Milsom with Brenda Wilkes
(left to right) Belle Hartley, Don and Margaret Milsom with Brenda Wilkes

This year’s Poppy Appeal has even more significance for East Durham – it is the 60th anniversary for local organisers.

The Peterlee Women’s Section of the Royal British Legion will celebrate its diamond anniversary on November 27 with an invitation-only celebratory event planned.

The organisation, which meets at Horden Rugby Club, held its official launch of this year’s Poppy Appeal last week.

Councillor Don Milsom, deputy Mayor of Peterlee, was asked to officially launch this year’s event.

Coun Milsom, whose stepson David Rowe served in Iraq and Northern Ireland, said: “I had the honour and the privilege of launching this year’s Peterlee Poppy Appeal, what a grand night it was.

“My number one priority when I become Mayor next year will be to raise money for Help for Heroes.”

Last year, the Peterlee women’s section raised an impressive £10,000 for the Poppy Appeal, and organisers are hoping to top that in its milestone year.

Coun Milsom, who attended the event with his wife and consort Margaret, added: “I would urge everyone to get behind this year’s poppy appeal and help raise as much money as possible for our forces personnel.”

The branch’s assistant secretary, Belle Hartley, said: “We are hoping to improve on the £10,000 raised last year.

“It would be great if we could, especially as it is our 60th anniversary.”

Belle, from Horden, who has been involved with the cause for more than 40 years, said Cissie Nicholson from Peterlee is thought to be the longest-serving member, having dedicated more than 50 years, while Christine Middleton is the Poppy Appeal organiser for the area.

Belle said the reason she has been involved for so long is “I just enjoy it”.

But Belle added that the local branch could do with some new members.

There are currently around a dozen women who attend meetings every week, but more would be welcomed to help with ongoing charity efforts.

Belle, who had three uncles serving in the forces, two of who were killed in conflict, added: “We help causes like Help for Heroes, with money going towards helping the recuperation of service personnel.
“We want to do all we can to support our forces.”

Any women thinking of joining the Peterlee Women’s branch of the Royal British Legion can call Bell on (0191) 5870495.