By Jacqueline Elmore
Long-standing Cuckfield resident and Poppy Appeal Organiser Peter Negus has been working as a volunteer supporter of the Royal British Legion (RBL) for over 20 years now. Peter first began making his collections in Copyhold Lane in the late 90s, and 12 years ago he was invited to organise the appeal throughout the village.
Not only does Peter’s involvement mean helping to raise funds for the Poppy Appeal but it also includes increasing awareness and promoting the profile of the appeal.
2018 was particularly important for the Poppy Appeal as it marked the Centenary of the Armistice that ended the First World War.
Peter explains: “I was heavily involved in liaising with the ‘Cuckfield Remembers’ committee regarding many of the commemorative events that were organised around the Armistice Centenary Day at the end of last year and was lucky enough to be part of such a memorable and historic moment in my lifetime.”
The Poppy Appeal in Cuckfield is just a small part of a nationally led campaign which last year alone raised over £50m to enable the Royal British Legion to support former members of the armed forces and their families.
Peter continues: “The public have been very supportive of the Poppy Appeal over the past few years as a result of the publicity related to the various centenaries connected with the First World War, coupled with an awareness of the part played by our military personnel recently in Iraq and Afghanistan. In Cuckfield alone we have seen our fundraising efforts increase over the years from £5,000 12 years ago to just under £11,000 this year.”
The Cuckfield arm of the RBL is quite separate from the Poppy Appeal, although Peter does work closely with the local branch and a number of its members are collectors for the Appeal.
The RBL was formed in 1921 in order to support current and former military staff and their families.
Whilst surviving servicemen from the First World War are now thin on the ground, there are participants and their families from more recent conflicts, from the Second World War to Iraq and Afghanistan, that rely on the RBL for assistance and support. Sadly, the world continues to be a dangerous place and further conflicts cannot be ruled out; meaning that support from the RBL may well be needed in the future and for many years to come.
As Poppy Appeal Organiser for Cuckfield, Peter coordinates 30 house to house collectors together with 70 other outlets - shops, pubs, schools, garages etc - around the village. However, after 12 years Peter is now looking to hand over the reins to someone new; to an individual who is willing to support this noble cause and be happy to spend a couple of months a year as Poppy Appeal Organiser right here in Cuckfield.
In addition, following the success and publicity generated by the recent ‘Cuckfield Remembers’ activities, the Cuckfield RBL is also seeking new members to join its band of dedicated volunteers.
The Cuckfield branch is principally associated with the Remembrance Sunday ceremony at Holy Trinity Church, but a revamped programme of social activities and speakers is being planned.
Whilst former serving members of the armed forces are always welcome, a military background is not necessary to become a member.
If you would like to find out how to get involved with the RBL in Cuckfield, contact details are as follows:
Poppy Appeal: Peter Negus. Tel: 01444 457740 or email: peternegus43 at btinternet.com
RBL Cuckfield Branch: Terry Buckland, Secretary. Email: b777fly at gmail.com