Gillotts Begin Remembrance Period with Poppy Appeal Assembly

As Remembrance Day approaches, Gillotts School held a special Poppy Appeal assembly last Thursday to mark the beginning of their Remembrance period.

The Gillotts students were visited by three special guests: Sara Abey, Henley Poppy Appeal Organiser; Anne Evans, Chair of the Henley and Peppard branch of the Royal British Legion; and Captain Alex Brogan of the Army Corps.

At the beginning of the assembly, Sara Abey addressed the room to explain a little bit about the Poppy Appeal. She stated, “We are doing this because every year, the Royal British Legion run a Poppy Appeal during the Remembrance period. In the Poppy Appeal, we present poppies to the public and they wear them with pride to remember our Armed Forces community and thank them for keeping us safe and in peace. To symbolise that, we are presenting poppies to your Head students today.”

The three Head students at Gillotts School – George Fearnehough, Bethan Toward, and Evie Decardi-Nelson – were each presented with a poppy by one of the three special guests.

After receiving a poppy from Captain Alex Brogan and making a donation to the Poppy Appeal, George said, “Thank you. We understand the symbolic nature of this presentation. We greatly respect how our Armed Forces Personnel are willing to risk everything to protect us all. We all recognise the physical and mental traumas they and their families can suffer in doing so.”

After receiving a poppy from Anne Evans and making a donation to the Poppy Appeal, Bethan said, “Thank you. We appreciate the assistance the Royal British Legion provides for our Armed Forces community in need. A few of the things they help with are rehabilitation programmes, financial and employment advice, housing and local support networks.”

After receiving a poppy from Sara Abey and making a donation to the Poppy Appeal, Evie said: “Thank you. By wearing a Royal British Legion Poppy, we are showing our nation’s admiration for the service and commitment of the Armed Forces community, past and present. This poppy is a symbol of both remembrance and hope for a peaceful future.”

Following the symbolic presentation of the poppies, the students had a chance to ask their guests questions. Many of the questions were directed to Captain Alex Brogan, and included: what food do you eat when on deployment with the Army; what countries have you been to with the Army; how long have you been in the Army; and have you ever met the Queen or King?

The death of the Queen was also the subject of a question, with Headteacher Catharine Darnton asking whether Sara, Alex or Anne believed that her passing would make the Remembrance period more significant. Anne responded, “I do believe that will happen actually, because she has been such a patron of the Royal British Legion. We got called the Royal British Legion by her father – we were just the British Legion before that. We help people rehabilitate when they come back from war, and we also help their families, that’s what’s amazing, families that go up through the generations. We never stop helping, so that’s why the Poppy Appeal is so important, and I believe that King Charles will be just as involved.”

After the Poppy assembly, Sara Abey, Henley Poppy Appeal Organiser said, “Gillotts School were amazing for organising such a wonderful Poppy Assembly to introduce students to the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal. Thank you, Head Students and Mrs Vanessa Sinclair. It was a perfect opportunity to explain to our younger generation why we admire and care for the Armed Forces community for their selfless service. Many of the students’ questions were directed at our special guest, Captain Alex Brogan of the Army Corps, clearly curious about military life.”

The Henley Poppy Appeal will officially launch this Thursday, with the ‘Henley Poppy Day’ taking place on Saturday (29th). From 10am to 4pm in Market Place, there will be a Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal stall run by servicemen and women from RAF Benson. There will also be music from Waterloo Band & Bugles of The Rifles from 10:30 to 12:20, and from 13:20 to 15:30. The event is supported by Henley Town Council, Blandy & Blandy Solicitors, Brakspear and Hof’s Bar.

There will also be a Classic Military Vehicle display in support of the Poppy Appeal on Saturday 5th November, from 9am to 3pm in Market Place, organised by Berks and Oxon Military Vehicle Trust.

Henley’s Remembrance Day service will take place on Sunday 13th November.