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Poppies

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Poppies

The thoughts and appreciation of  our servicemen are at a high ! The people of Royal Wooton Basset poingantly   brought the way these young men’s lives are laid on the line in the cal lof duty has brought the trials and bravery of our troops very much into focus. It has not  always been so, as this article from one of our parishioners makes clear. Read on!

 

Poppies

As I write this we have just had the anniversary of the start of the British Legion Poppy Appeal. I thought the following story might be of interest.

In 1922 my father was on the local committee of the British Legion in the town where he then lived. That year the town council had proposed a ban on the selling of flags in the street: there had been rather too much. My father wondered where this left the sale of poppies.He approached one of the town councillors to find out more about this proposal and where they stood withregards the sale of poppies.The man was surprised but admitted that no one had thought of the poppies.It turned out that the proposal had already been agreed, and the next day would be appearing in the local paper – and it would seem to include the sale of poppies. My father promptly wrote to the papers; head his letter “Is it a flag or a flower?”

The letter questioned that “if the poppy was a flower, would that mean that the flower sellers outside theatres and cemeteries have to stop selling in the street”?   – “did it matter if a flower was real or man made? However, if the man made poppy was classed as a flag and could not be sold on the street, the Council should be ashamed. The sale of poppies was introduced to help the wounded. To give work to some in the poppy factories and help to those who could not work”? The letter did not change things but the publicity certainly did.

With many helpers it was possible to sell the poppies that year in all sorts of ingenious ways- but not on the street. Shops that had private forecourts had people selling there. Some people sold from their front gardens, over the hedge. Some sat inside their front doors or hallways. Some rode the trams, and others knocked on doors. It was all a tremendous success.Not so for the Town Council. They mostly lost their seats at the next election.

There was a follow up to this. The Labour Party accused the British Legion of being involved in politics, something the British Legion has never done. According to my father the British Legion “Top Brass” came down from London to look into this case. When it was found that it had all started with one enthusiastic and concerned local committee member, the accusation was withdrawn and apologies all round. After that, as now, poppies were sold in the street.

Kathy Butler

 

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