Harry Patch locomotive

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GWR gives a prestigious platform to launch the Royal British Legion’s Poppy People campaign


Great Western Railway (GWR) is on track to support The Royal British Legion’s annual volunteer recruit drive by providing the perfect platform – the symbolic Harry Patch locomotive.
The Legion regularly organises a ‘Poppy People’ event to honour the thousands of people across the country who volunteer their time to collect for the Poppy Appeal.
And this year the Poppy People campaign launch will take place on Thursday (September 8) at various railway stations across the West Country following a short launch event at Paddington Station in Central London.
A brief service of commemoration will take place at Paddington on Thursday before the 1006 service leaves Paddington. The train will then make its way to Penzance via Reading, Exeter, Newton Abbot, Plymouth and other station stops along the route.
Many colourful fundraising events will take place at stations including Exeter, Plymouth and Penzance.
To mark the launch day, the train will be largely manned by GWR staff who are in fact veterans who served in the Armed Forces. The 1006 Paddington to Penzance passenger service will be driven by two power cars – the leading one will be the recently dedicated ‘Harry Patch’ locomotive, while the rear will have ‘The Royal British Legion’ named locomotive.
Carole Arnold, The Royal British Legion’s Community Fundraiser for Devon, said: ‘Each year, the Legion’s Poppy Appeal takes place over a two-week period leading up to Remembrance Sunday, which this year falls on November 13.
‘The Appeal is The Royal British Legion’s main fundraising event of the year, and it is the UK’s biggest charity campaign. The charity relies heavily on its volunteer collectors who are out and about, rain or shine, in communities across the country.
‘The Poppy People campaign highlights the hugely important contribution made by those volunteers and, it is hoped, will encourage more people to join the Legion’s army of volunteers.”
The train will call at Exeter at 1210 where it will be greeted by members of the Devon Royal British Legion, and again at Newton Abbot and Plymouth, before continuing its journey to Cornwall calling at Par and Truro. The train’s arrival at Plymouth is scheduled for 1311 where a reception party will feature the Plymouth Cathedral Choir.
The launch events will end with the train’s arrival at Penzance at 1511 where it will be welcomed by members of the Cornish Royal British Legion, Legion standard bearers, and members of the Cornish Army Cadet Force and Air Training Corps.
Thursday launch events aim to highlight the important contribution made by the many Poppy Appeal collectors. It is also hoped that the events will encourage more volunteers to become collectors for the Poppy Appeal.
A spokesman for GWR said: ‘The Royal British Legion continues its vital work to support our veterans and their families and we are delighted to be able to help with this year’s Poppy Appeal.
‘Last November we commissioned a specially designed livery, the Harry Patch, as part of commemoration of The Great War. The locomotive serves as a poignant reminder to the thousands who travel along the Great Western Main Line of the sacrifices that were made during the First World War.’
Each year, the Legion’s Poppy Appeal takes place over a two-week period leading up to Remembrance Sunday, which will this year fall on November 13.
The campaign relies heavily on the volunteer collectors who are to be seen in town centres, house-to-house calls, shopping centres as well as distributing collection boxes with poppies to a variety of locations including schools, libraries, service stations, cafes and pubs.

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