Bristol Poppy Appeal Launch

Friday 25th October 2019

The launch of the Poppy Appeal 2019 in Bristol took place today at Bristol Temple Meads. The Royal British Legion encourages the nation to recognise the unseen service and sacrifice of our Armed Forces, past and present. Throughout this year’s Poppy Appeal the Legion will be shining a spotlight on the many hidden contributions made by the Armed Forces community every day.

Alongside members of service personnel and representatives from the Legion, George ‘Johnny’ Johnson MBE DFM was present to officially launch the Bristol Poppy Appeal at Bristol Temple Meads Station where the Great Western Railway train named after him pulled in at 1143. The station has been decorated with Poppies and also displays large posters of this year’s Royal British Legion media campaign.

Poignant: George ‘Johnny’ Johnson MBE DFM at Bristol Temple Meads for today’s Poppy Appeal launch

Brian Hewitt, Chairman of the Royal British Legion for Gloucestershire said:

“Each day our Armed Forces provide an incredible service to our country in all kinds of ways, many of which we don’t necessarily see, but all of which impact our lives. The unseen sacrifices they make on our behalf deserve to be recognised so wear your poppy with pride and show your support for our Armed Forces community, past and present.

“Every donation received will make a real difference not only to the lives of Service men and women and veterans, but to their families as well who can also experience difficulties dealing with the circumstances of a loved one who is serving.”

The fundraising target in Bristol is £620,000. The money raised will enable the Legion to continue its vital work delivering life-long support to Service and ex-Service personnel and their families through hardships, injuries and bereavements.

The Legion uses donations in many ways including providing crisis grants, sport and art-based recovery programmes, specialist dementia care, lobbying the government on issues that affect our community and advising and supporting with benefits and money issues.

The Royal British Legion’s Director of Fundraising Claire Rowcliffe said:

“During the Poppy Appeal this year we want to raise awareness of the less well-known work our Armed Forces do, and the unseen sacrifices and hidden contributions they make that many of us simply don’t get to see.

“From combating piracy and providing support during natural disasters, to working in collaboration with organisations such as the police to keep the nation safe, our Armed Forces are supporting us daily in a huge variety of ways.

“Life in the Armed Forces comes with unique challenges for those serving, and for their families, yet they are here for us every single day and always have been, so the Legion is here for them whenever they need us.”

Never forgotten: George ‘Johnny’ Johnson MBE DFM with service personnel at Bristol Temple Meads

Andy Phillips, Network Rail Station Manager, said:

 “We are really pleased and honoured to be supporting this year’s Poppy Appeal by hosting the regional campaign launch at Bristol Temple Meads.

 “The railway has a long history of supporting service personnel and we are proud to be continuing that link and standing alongside representatives of the Royal British Legion and those who serve our country to mark the start of the 2019 Appeal.

 “The station will be decked out with poppies as we welcome Johnny Johnson MBE to Bristol, as well as the train named in his honour. It will be a great visual display to remind everyone of all the sacrifices made by our Armed Forces and we are proud to be a part of the campaign this year from the very beginning.”

 The GWR Intercity Express Train was named last year after Johnny Johnson MBE, the last British survivor of the Dambusters raid.

 The Westbury On Trym resident was the bomb aimer in the second wave of Lancasters that attacked the Sorpe Dam. Using the famous bouncing bomb, his crew was successful in hitting the dam but it failed to breach.

Hero: George ‘Johnny’ Johnson MBE DFM dispatching the Intercity Express Train from Bristol Temple Meads

The train also carries the name of the late Joy Lofthouse who flew for the Air Transport Auxilliary (ATA). Joy grew up in Gloucestershire and delivered hundreds of planes from the factories where they were made to airfields across the country during World War Two.

 Mr Johnson was given a tour of the driver’s cab before dispatching the train from Temple Meads back to London Paddington.

 GWR Station Manager for Bristol Temple Meads Alex Hills said:

 “Nominated as one of our 100 Great Westerners, we were honoured to be able to welcome Johnny back to Bristol Temple Meads in support of this year’s Poppy Appeal, and the vital work of the Royal British Legion.”


Notes to editors

For further information please contact: Clare Peppiatt 07919 573770.

The Royal British Legion’s work is the nation’s biggest Armed Forces charity providing care and support to all members of the British Armed Forces past and present and their families. The Legion champions Remembrance and safeguards the Military Covenant between the nation and its Armed Forces. It is well known for the annual Poppy Appeal, and its emblem the red poppy.

Pictures: South West News Service