Hats a good start to Swaffham Poppy Appeal

Members of the Swaffham Sparklers Red Hat Society, with the Poppy Appeal Stand within Tesco Store Swaffham, LtoR, Eileen Goddard, Gill Vickerage, Jenny Anderson, Ann French, Bez Brown ANL-141027-151710009
Members of the Swaffham Sparklers Red Hat Society, with the Poppy Appeal Stand within Tesco Store Swaffham, LtoR, Eileen Goddard, Gill Vickerage, Jenny Anderson, Ann French, Bez Brown ANL-141027-151710009
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Community groups and volunteers have turned out in force this week to launch the annual Poppy Appeal in Swaffham.

Members of the town’s Red Hats group staffed the campaign’s stall at the Tesco store on Monday, before the town’s Rotary club took over the pitch on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Representatives of the Lions club will be stationed there today, having also run the stand yesterday.

And, tomorrow, volunteers, including members of the town’s Air Training Corps branch, will be manning six stands around the town centre to encourage shoppers to donate.

The stands will be outside Iceland, Boots, the Co-op, Asda and the Plowright Centre, as well as near the town’s war memorial.

Eileen Goddard, vice-queen of the Red Hats group, said she hoped getting involved would help to raise awareness of both the appeal and the group, which currently has 25 members and meets on the second Thursday of each month at the town’s Conservative Club.

Along with her husband, Rod, she has acted as a volunteer for the past eight years and she said: “We had a wonderful day.

“When we do the count-up in November, I’m sure it’s going to be quite high and Tesco were wonderful. They made us very welcome.”

In total, around 70 volunteers are giving their time to raise funds for the appeal this year, with most working in the town’s main supermarkets.

But organiser George Harris said: “We’re always in need of more volunteers. In Tesco, we’re starting at about nine or 10 and finishing at four. If we had more volunteers we could stretch the day.”

Helpers are usually asked to contribute only one or two hours during the appeal period.

Around £10,000 was raised by the town branch during the 2013 appeal and Mr Harris said he was confident of matching that figure this year.

He said there was greater awareness of the appeal this year because of it coinciding with the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War.

He added: “People in Swaffham are always generous. There is no doubt about that.”

As well as the street and store collections, a Festival of Remembrance service will be held at the St Peter and St Paul Church next Thursday, November 6, from 7.30pm.

The Swaffham Players and the Sacred Heart School choir will be performing during the service, where a collection will be taken for the appeal.

Anyone interested in helping the campaign, or becoming a member of the branch, should contact Mr Harris on 01760 724718 or branch secretary Anne Thorp on 01760 722611.