Teenage air cadets have been playing their part in remembering the nation’s war dead and survivors past and present by joining the Poppy Appeal frontline.

The youngsters from 346 (Tynemouth) Squadron ATC have thrown their weight behind this year’s push on Poppy sales by spending the last two weekends collecting for the annual Royal British Legion fundraiser.

The charity has set itself a national target of £37m for 2013 so it can continue its vital work supporting members of the Armed Forces community in need.

And the cadets aged 13-19 have been out in force at Tynemouth Station as they provided a visible uniform presence to encourage the public to dig deep for the appeal.

The squadron’s commanding officer, Flight Lieutenant Dan Laidler, said he was proud 346 had again been able to play its part in supporting the Poppy campaign.

“With 2014 being the 100th anniversary of the start of World War One and British troops still involved in conflicts abroad, it is more important than ever that we remember not just those who have lost their lives in past hostilities but also support the new generation of the Armed Forces and their families.

“The conflict in Afghanistan has brought home to people just how vital the Royal British Legion’s work is and why the money raised through the Poppy Appeal is needed in even greater amounts.”

He added: “For the cadets selling the poppies makes them think of the reason behind the appeal; those who have worn uniforms and represented their country before them and in many cases paid the ultimate price or suffered severe long-term injuries or emotional trauma.”

Every Poppy sold helps raise the £1.6m it costs the Royal British Legion every week to help serving and ex-servicemen and women and their dependants, as well as with welfare homes for the severely disabled and respite for those recovering from hospitalisation.

The Poppy Appeal started in 1921. The use of the bright red flower was inspired by John McCrae’s World War One poem In Flanders’ Fields, and it has now become an iconic symbol of the many lives lost in combat.

Millions of people wear a poppy every year in the run-up to Remembrance Day on November 11 – chosen to mark the end of hostilities in World War One in 1918 – to show their support for our serving men and women.

Families are at the heart of this year’s Poppy Appeal with the focus on the strength of mothers, fathers, partners and children in Armed Forces families, who serve alongside their loved ones every day and who themselves often need practical care and advice.

Remembrance Sunday this year falls on November 10 and 346 (Tynemouth) Squadron ATC will join other service units and representatives from local organisations to march to the war memorial in Hawkeys Lane, North Shields, where they will take part in a special service and wreath laying ceremony.

Flt Lt Laidler said: “The Remembrance Day Parade and Service is always a poignant occasion but one the squadron is honoured to be invited to take part in. It is important that the cadets and younger generation continue to remember and appreciate the ultimate sacrifice that has been made by so many servicemen and women.”


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