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Poppy Appeal organiser repaying a debt of gratitude
WHEN the Royal British Legion stepped in to help Brian Leach at the lowest point of his life, he had no idea how he would ever repay the charity for its help.
But he has taken on the role of running the Poppy Appeal in Bicester at the 11th hour, after the former organiser stepped down due to moving house.
He is appealing for more volunteer collectors and wants younger people to get involved.
The Bicester & Launton branch of the Legion desperately needs people to help sell poppies in the area during the run-up to Remembrance Sunday on November 11 – the 94th anniversary of the end of the First World War.
Divorced father-of five Mr Leach is 44, and became a grandfather for the first time this month. He said: “There was no-one to take over about six weeks ago. Obviously the Poppy Appeal was coming up and so I stepped into the breach. I thought we have got to have a collection in Bicester, especially this being a garrison town.”
Mr Leach, a former Corporal in the Royal Ordnance Corps and the Royal Logistics Corp, was in uniform for 21 years and served in Iraq, but he was medically discharged after a motorcycle accident in 2003, in which he seriously injured one side of his body.
He found life on Civvy Street difficult and struggled with a disability, mounting debts and increasing isolation, until a friend suggested he go to the RBL for help and they helped him turn his life around.
Mr Leach, who lives in Chesterton, near Bicester, said supporting the RBL and leading the local Poppy Appeal was a way he could pay the charity back for that support.
He said: “I have been involved with the legion for five or six years. It helped me out with benefits, pension and housing advice.
“There are three of us under 60 on the committee – we need more young people to keep it going.
“Without extra, and younger help, Bicester is in very real danger of not having a Poppy Appeal next year. If you have a spare hour or two, please get in touch.”
Last year the branch raised £34,000 towards initiatives run by the legion, including centres for injured troops and a scheme to help service leavers set up their own businesses.
Anyone interested in helping with the Poppy Appeal in Bicester should can call Mr Leach on 07767 092004.