West Kent volunteers rewarded for dedication to Poppy Appeal

STUNNING DISPLAY: Jacky Hawksbee (left) and Julie Bryer of Tunbridge Wells Gateway with Richard Cast, Royal British Legion’s County Chairman

West Kent volunteers rewarded for dedication to Poppy Appeal

by Andy Tong | 21st August 2019

COLLECTORS and fundraisers from Tunbridge Wells and Tonbridge have been recognised by the Royal British Legion for their support of the Poppy Appeal.

The special ceremony at the Royal British Legion Village in Aylesford recognised 50 countywide award-winners following the centenary of the end of World War One.

Pam Mills of Tonbridge was nominated by the town’s Poppy Appeal organiser, Carl Lewis, who described her as ‘simply stated, a force’.

He said: “She has revitalised her community’s understanding and recognition of why we should be proud of our Armed Forces and the sacrifices they have made for the freedoms we enjoy today.”

He added: “Not only this, she has researched and showcased how the people of Tonbridge during both world wars showed their unconditional support of our bravest boys. 

“She has engaged with schoolchildren and the people of Tonbridge, putting on musical shows, exhibitions, last year’s Tonbridge 100 centenary living history weekend, and even walking tours.”

Pam is standing down after seven years working for the Poppy Appeal. In 2018 alone, her activities raised in excess of £7,000 of the town’s record total of more than £42,000.

Carl also nominated another winner, Richard Heald and The Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Living History Group, who were the ‘talk of the town’ at the Tonbridge 100 event last August.

Jacky Hawksbee and Julie Bryer also received an award on behalf of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council’s Gateway.

‘There were more than 20,000 poppies that made up the stunning display and it was clean, clear and tasteful. The theme itself was appropriate and classically poignant’

They were nominated by Jane Ayers, Community Fundraiser for West Kent for the display of knitted poppies that adorned the exterior wall of the town’s library.

She said: “The site was perfect for all to see and is a splendid backdrop to the Tunbridge Wells war memorial.

“There were more than 20,000 poppies that made up the stunning display and it was clean, clear and tasteful. The theme itself was appropriate and classically poignant.

“It was clear that the Gateway manager, Denise Shortall, and her staff had put in many hours of hard work, which included using a cherry-picker and installing late at night. They should be extremely proud of the effort.”

Jane Rabbetts of Tesco supermarket in Pembury was also recognised. She was put forward by Jane Ayers, who said: “The village has struggled to replace their Poppy Appeal organiser, who retired after many years three years ago.

“Despite this, Jane and Tesco have been steadfast in ensuring a vital offering is made in store every year, and they have raised more than £16,600 in the last three years.”

The other winners in West Kent were Pat Westgate and Freda Cross for their exhibition Hawkhurst Remembers World War One, and Penny McCulloch, who hand-knitted woggles for the Beavers, Cubs and Scouts of Ightham village.

Last year’s Kent appeal reached its highest ever total, £1.96million – an increase of £700,000 since World War One centenary events started in 2014.

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