- Ripley ex-soldier says the charity helped get his benefits back after they were cut unfairly
- Veteran praises flash mob performed by 25 children who launched this years Poppy Appeal
- Fund-raisers for the charity say they are appealing for more soldiers to come forward for help
A war veteran who lost his leg during his second tour of Afghanistan has described what this year’s Poppy Appeal means to him.
Aron Fowler, 32, an ex-soldier from Ripley, showed his support as 25 children launched this year’s Poppy Appeal with a flash mob in the city centre.
Mr Fowler, originally from Bridlington, moved to Ripley to be with his wife Callan, 23, who he met at the funeral of a comrade.
He said: “For me, the Poppy Appeal allows me to remember the comrades that I’ve lost during the two tours of Afghanistan that I did.
“It brings me comfort knowing that when people buy these poppies the money is going out to help the veterans and serving personal that are still here and suffering from whatever illness or disability that they’re picked up along the lines of their service.”
Aron held the rank of private in the 2nd battalion for the Worcestershire Sherwood Foresters. It was during his service in Afghanistan in 2007 that the vehicle he and his comrades were travelling in was hit by a roadside bomb.
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His left leg was so badly injured that he faced the agonising decision on whether to attempt to save it or have it amputated.
Unfortunately, he soon realised that there was no hope for his leg. Following his amputation, he said that it was The Royal British Legion that nursed him through, including helping him to fight the Department of Work and Pensions after having his benefits cut.
Regional Area Manager for Derbyshire’s Royal British Legion, Linda Flecknett, said the charity are there for veterans from ‘cradle to grave’.
She said: “We’re here to support veterans and their families and carers, who people often forget about,” she said.
“Our aim is to get them back into employment and get their lives back on track.
“Our campaign this year is called ‘Count Them In’, we’re trying to get the government to put in the next census an area to say whether or not you are a veteran, so it makes us easier to find them. We don’t know where every veteran is living and rely on them contacting us.”
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Derbyshire fund-raiser for the charity, Lilly Clements, said children’s flash mob was chosen specifically as they are looking to appeal to the younger generation.
She said: “We’re looking to attract and engage with younger audiences. I think the contemporary dance performance was a brilliant way of showing the public that we can appeal to a younger audience and get those of all ages remembering the people for fought for our country.”
To continue to commemorate those who have fallen, the ceramic poppies displayed at the Tower of London will be touring the U.K. and will be exhibited at Derby’s Silk Mill from 9/6/17 to 23/7/17.