A POPPY Appeal organiser said she was “blown away” by the reception from members of the public during this year’s collections.
Cheryl Jones, who covers a wide area of the borough, including Whiston, Wickersley, Dalton, Thrybergh and her home village of Brinsworth, said she had been touched by the good wishes that poppy sellers had received around Rotherham.
She said she had relished the experience, adding: “It is one of the most amazing things I’ve done.
“People were saying they didn’t think we were going to be out and about.
“I think, with Covid 19, people have realised that life is not a given and they realise that the veterans have had a part to play in that in their time and they are grateful for that.
“People were just very grateful that we were there collecting.
“This is my first year as coordinator for the Rotherham East area and it has blown me away.
“It’s been an unbelievable experience and I can’t wait to do more fundraising for them.”
The appeal team had to follow strict guidelines on where and how they could collect donations this year and collections focused on supermarket stalls.
Cheryl (pictured) said keeping veterans safe had been vital amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“We would normally have a lot more collectors, but we didn’t want to put anyone at risk and many of them are elderly we need to look after the veterans,” she said.
“We just hope we can start using them out on the streets again next year.”
Cheryl was also part of a nationwide team of cycling veterans who boosted Poppy Appeal coffers with bike rides to their area’s war memorials.
“I didn’t realise there were so many of them,” she said. “I managed to make it to about 13.”
Ron Moffett, who co-ordinates the appeal for the Rotherham West area, said he expected takings to be down by as much as half because the time available for collection had been cut short by lockdown and many shops and other venues which usually took part in the fundraising drive were unable.
He said many donors had given especially generous, particularly as the increased adoption of contactless payment options meant there was no need to dig deep for small change.
“I feel like people were willing to give a bit more than they usually do,” he said.
Ron said the pandemic had forced the national appeal to adapt with supporters encouraged to make donations online and required the Rotherham team to make changes, such as sending schools separate poppy packs for each class “bubble”.
With the 100th anniversary of the Royal British Legion falling next year, Ron said he hoped the all-clear would be given for a “big push” for the Poppy Appeal.
The total raised around Rotherham is due to be announced in the next week or so.