POPPY appeal fundraisers in Ellesmere say they are delighted that schools and traders will support the Royal British Legion (RBL) this year after traditional collections had to be abandoned because of Coronavirus concerns.

Usually, in the run up to Remembrance Sunday, a dedicated team of volunteers make house-to-house collections around the town and surrounding villages, raising around £9,000 in 2019.

However, this and on-street collections in the town centre have been cancelled together with the Royal British Legion’s annual poppy concert at Ellesmere Comrades’ Club.

“Most of our volunteers are aged over 70, so health-wise it’s not a good idea to have them out selling poppies,” said local appeal organiser, Lynn Howard.

"However, all local schools will be supporting the appeal and nearly 20 local shops, pubs and other businesses will be making poppies available.

“We’re very grateful to the people of Ellesmere and district for the overwhelming generosity they show every year and, in spite of all the difficulties this year, I’m sure they’ll give us their loyal support.

“We’ve placed large display poppies on lampposts around the town to raise awareness and we’re encouraging people to make donations and obtain their poppies from the various local businesses who’re giving the Legion such great support, as they do every year.

Poppies will available at Ellesmere Newsagents, Tesco, TSB Bank, Ellesmere Post Office, Ismay’s Fashions, Mere Motors, Ellesmere Co-op store, The Red Lion Inn, the Boathouse restaurant, the Tuesday market hall tea-stall, the Boathouse restaurant, Cargotec, the Lazy Cow cafe, Lyneal, the Sun Inn at Welshampton, Dudleston Post Office, ABP, Hordley, Ellesmere, TG’s Wood Lane quarry and local schools.

Fashion retailer Ismay Evans has a large collection of home-made poppies for sale, which she crotcheted during the lockdown, as her efforts last year raised more than £600 for the appeal.

The RBL is also offering a wide range of range of merchandise via its website, including virtual poppies which householders can print off and stick in their window.

Bob McBride, chairman of the Legion’s Ellesmere and District branch, said: “We’re very grateful to have our schools and the business community behind us. Obviously, our branch volunteers won’t have the same face-to-face contact with the community that we normally do.

"I’m sure people won’t forget the vital work that the Legion does in providing much-needed financial help and welfare support to military veterans and their families in times of need or crisis, as well as those who continue to serve in our armed forces to keep our country safe and secure.

All this is dependent on the kind generosity of the public – there is no state funding.”

Mr McBride said this year’s Remembrance Day parade and service at St Mary’s parish church had been cancelled, but wreaths would be laid at the town’s War Memorial by invited representatives of local organisations.