November 30, 2015
At this time of year, the Poppy emblem is synonymous with November. It is part of a cultural fabric, not only in the UK and the Commonwealth, but elsewhere throughout the world. Inaugurated by King George V in 1919, Remembrance Day is marked every year on the 11th day of November (the 11th month) at 1100 hours, when World War I came to an end.
Here at Berthon we are all particularly aware of this important day, as Melvyn Cole, whom many of you know as a familiar figure in our Dockmasters’, is heavily involved with the Royal British Legion and the important work that it does. Melvyn has been part of the Berthon family as a member of the Dockmasters’ team, since 1978 and is one of the go to team for anything to do with Lymington Marina.
Melvyn is a civilian and a Poppy seller. He can also be found locally wearing a very smart rig, including kilt, during the run up to Remembrance Day. Of course we all buy our poppies from him! His dedication always astounds…
Having done this for a number of years, he became part of the British Legion Lymington branch committee. A couple of years after that he was made Branch Secretary – the post he has held for 4 years.
In July 2014 he was asked to join the Earl Mountbatten Memorial Branch, which is a great honour, going on to become their Branch Secretary in October. There is an annual County Conference in January and this year he was also ask to join the Conference Committee, then elected Vice Chair.
It goes without saying that we are all very proud of Melvyn and his work with the Poppy Appeal. At the Lymington Branch alone, over £19,987.72 was raised in 2014 from the November collection and donations through the year. For 2015, the current total stands at £15,000 with plenty of time to go! Melvyn has made £1,201, whilst our marina office has made £88. The county of Hampshire raised over £1.5m last year and this is all down to Melvyn and his colleagues. Their enthusiasm never wains.
World War I, from which this charity was born, saw incredible losses – with around 50,000 people missing on the Menin Gate alone. Their bodies were never found. During the famous Battle of the Somme there were 5,000 casualties in the first hour, and 50,000 by the end of the day – 19,240 dead on the British side.
However, the Royal British Legion collects for all our service people not just from this awful conflict but to the present, not just the survivors, but the families of those who didn’t return home, as well as help for those who are still serving. Although we think of their work each November, the Legion and its staff and volunteers like Melvyn, are thinking of, raising funds for, and actively helping 24/7, 52 weeks a year.
For more information about this incredible charity follow this link – http://www.britishlegion.org.uk
Of course the Tower of London Remembrance display in 2014, created by Paul Cummins and Tom Piper, was an iconic event with 888,246 poppies, with each one representing a British or Commonwealth serviceman or woman killed in the First World War. These incredible poppies in ceramic filled the Tower’s moat and were individually hand made.
The poppies were placed in the moat progressively by volunteers, the first being planted on 17 July 2014 and the work was opened on the 5th August. A team of around 17,500 volunteers put the poppies in place, the last one was planted on the 11th November by Harry Hayes; a 13 year old cadet form the Combined Cadet Force. The following day around 8,000 volunteers started the task of removing the poppies.
It’s estimated that around 5 million people walked the boundary of the Tower of London and paid their respects. At around sunset on each day between 1 September and 10 November the names of 10 WW1 service personnel, nominated by members of the public to appear on a Roll of Honour where read out by the Yeoman Warder followed by the Last Post bugle call.
So if you are accosted by a jolly man in a kilt anywhere around Lymington, or indeed if you come across any of his colleagues in a future November brandishing a box of poppies please give generously; remember the difference that your donation could make to the family of a serviceman no longer with us, or to someone on active service or someone who is invalided out of our services.