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Singh Launches British Poppy Appeal at No 10

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Indian-origin British Private Harmeet Singh has been chosen to launch Royal British Legion’s national Poppy Appeal…reports Asian Lite News

Prime Minister David Cameron launching the 2015 Poppy Appeal at No 10 Downing Street
Prime Minister David Cameron launching the 2015 Poppy Appeal at No 10 Downing Street

The British Army’s 25 year old Private Harmeet Singh, of Indian heritage, is one of six people who were chosen to launch the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal.

Private Singh’s maternal family had been in the Indian Army and police force, but Private Singh is the first in his immediate family to be in the military – indeed, he is the first Sikh soldier in his regiment.

Over this year’s Poppy Appeal, the Legion is telling the story behind the Poppy; the story about how is the money which is donated, for each of the 45 million poppies that are worn, is put to use helping today’s Armed Forces Community.

Private Harmeet Singh
Private Harmeet Singh

Private Singh is a medial healthcare assistant in the Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps. On speaking of why he joined the Army, Private Singh said: “I had no intention of joining, never thought about it until I was watching this BBC documentary in Jan 2011, which was about Sikhs in WW1 and WW2. In school or college we never got taught about Sikhs who fought. I did more research and that really inspired me so the next day I was in the careers office.

“I went through an interview and did the initial tests. Depending on what score you get from that test you get different opportunities, luckily I did well so I got loads of opportunities and chose the medical side. In Sept 2011 I started Basic Training Phase 1, which is 14 weeks long. Phase two was another 14 weeks and that was for the healthcare assistant training. That involved anatomy and physiology and the basics we need to know as a healthcare assistant. After that I was posted to my first unit which is the Defence Medical Group in Northallerton where I am now. My career highlight so far was deploying to Afghanistan from in 2014.”

Private Singh started selling poppies at Sikh temples a few years ago and was keen to do more for the Poppy Appeal. When the opportunity to participate in the Appeal itself, he jumped at the chance.

Speaking about the Royal British Legion, he said: “Not only does the RBL look after service men and women but they look after veterans and their families. I don’t think many people know about it, they‘ve heard of it but they aren’t aware of the work. I think they should know about the legion because it made me feel better, that I know there’s a charity I can go to not only to help me but my family as well. That makes me feel so much better and other young people in the military should know about it too.”

The Royal British Legion is urging the public to uncover the story behind the poppy, as they launch their 2015 Poppy Appeal campaign. The campaign leads with a powerful series of images which provide a moving reminder of the importance of remembering the fallen whilst also supporting today’s Armed Services community.

The images, which will feature in media and on billboards up and down the country from 22 October, were taken at the world’s oldest established photographic studio. The campaign positions photos of modern day Legion beneficiaries besides their counterparts from the First World War, and highlights the sacrifices that were made in the past, and that continue to be made today. The new portraits were photographed by Tom Reeves, the great-grandson of Benjamin Reeves who took the original photographs in 1915 and 1916, just before the Service personnel set off for the front line. In the recreation the original camera was used to capture the poster campaign images in the very same studio and even the negatives were processed in the same darkroom as the First World War images.

Charles Byrne, The Legion’s Director of Fundraising said: “This year’s Poppy Appeal campaign provides us with a poignant reminder that the poppy is a powerful symbol, worn to commemorate the sacrifices of our Armed Forces whilst providing us with a way to support today’s Service community. We’re proud to reveal these striking images and hope people across the nation will take a moment to reflect, and give generously to the appeal to help the Legion raise £41 million towards our vital work.”

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