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Poppy seller’s 40 years’ service

A dedicated poppy seller in Burgess Hill is marking his 40th anniversary as a volunteer for the annual Poppy Appeal, raising £25,000 for war veterans.

From Press releases - 26 October 2016 12:00 AM

A dedicated poppy seller in Burgess Hill is marking his 40th anniversary as a volunteer for the annual Poppy Appeal, raising £25,000 for war veterans.

Fred Wheatland, electricity substation inspector for UK Power Networks, is encouraging people to volunteer their time to become Poppy Appeal collectors to support The Royal British Legion’s annual appeal.

Fred helps coordinate the annual Poppy Appeal fundraising activities at Tesco in Jane Murray Way helped by his employer, UK Power Networks, which gives him two paid days each year to work for the UK’s largest Armed Forces charity. He adds this to three days holiday he takes each year in support of the appeal.

Fred said: “UK Power Networks is keen on charity work and I find the two days I’m given to spend on the appeal very useful. The company is very caring in allowing staff to do charity work in company time and my managers are very supportive.

“The best part about being a poppy seller is hearing people’s stories about loved ones who served in the wars. Some stories bring a lump to my throat when I hear about what their dad or grandad did during the war. We have regular visitors who wait for us to visit the superstore, including a man who lost his leg in one of the conflicts.

“I willingly give my free time for those who have suffered and those who continue to suffer as a result of conflicts. We are here living the life we do thanks to those who fought for us. This is my way of expressing thanks to those who sacrificed so much for us. If nobody had fought for us our country would not be the one it is today.”

Lauryn Selby, The Royal British Legion’s Community Fundraiser for West Sussex, said: “The Poppy Appeal simply wouldn’t be possible without the amazing support we receive each year from people like Fred, who are the heart of the fundraising drive.

“The appeal wouldn’t be the same without Fred and the thousands of other volunteers who give up their time to uphold the memory of the fallen and support the future of the living.”

Fred’s grandfather, Frederick Kingsley, fought in the First World War during the Battle of the Somme. As a result of an injury in the battle he had part of his finger amputated, without anaesthetic, before being sent back into battle. His step-father, John Allen, was shot down south of Paris in the Second World War as an RAF pilot and was smuggled back to England by the French resistance. He suffered burns and received treatment on his return to England.

“Both my grandfather and stepfather were very private and never talked about what they went through,” said Fred, “I think it was very harrowing and they didn’t want to relive it.”

Fred will be starting his annual collection at Tesco in Jane Murray Way in the week beginning November 7.

Each year more than 350,000 Poppy Appeal volunteers are needed across the country to raise much-needed funds to support current and former Armed Forces personnel, and their families.

The legion is looking for people of all ages and backgrounds to help run the Poppy Appeal.

Volunteers are being sought for areas across West Sussex including Aldwick, Bognor Regis, Burgess Hill, Handcross, Middleton on Sea, Mudham, Pulborough, and Worthing.

Anyone who would like to be a volunteer for the appeal can contact Lauryn Selby, The Royal British Legion’s Community Fundraiser for West Sussex, on 07768 257416 or email LSelby@britishlegion.org.uk.

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