LISTEN: Gordon Michie explains how anyone can help the appeal
As they celebrate their 100 year anniversary, Poppyscotland is looking for new volunteers to get involved following the retirement of volunteer and ex-fireman Kenny Forbes who served 20 ‘magnificent’ years with the charity.
Based in the Perthshire branch, Kenny worked tirelessly in his spare time to facilitate fundraising in Perth and surrounding areas.
Head of Fundraising at Poppyscotland, Gordon Michie, spoke with gratitude of Kenny’s work and outlining the role future volunteers would have to get involved with Poppyscotland.
Mr Michie said: “Kenny Forbes, after 20 Magnificent years working within the communities of Perth & the surrounding villages, has been a fantastic advocate an ambassador for Poppyscotland.
“Kenny was a black watchman in Perthshire he went on to serve his community as a fireman as well but in his spare time, he dedicated countless hours to ensuring that the poppy was available and that members of the public can wear their poppy’s with pride in November.
“He had a fantastic team of volunteers that would be in the local shopping centre or supermarkets and ensuring that the poppy tins were in hairdressers, pubs and corner shops and wherever the general public was there to ensure that the poppy was available to the good citizens of Perth.”
Poppyscotland carries out key work year round, not just in November and Mr Michie articulated his appreciation of the life changing work, facilitated by the organisations volunteers.
Mr Michie added: “We are probably best known for organising the annual Scottish Poppy appeal every year that ties in with the nation’s remembrance time by leading up to the 11th of November.
“We celebrate this year 100 years of the poppy. The first Poppy appeal was in 1921, and over the last 100 years we’ve been supported by 10s of 1000s of volunteers and members of the Scottish public who every year come out and make a donation to our life changing work.
“One of the big challenges that we have at Poppyscotland is getting that message out, that we’re not just there to help in November we’re around all year to support those and in the armed forces community that needs those services, and the money that raised by the annual Scottish Poppy appeal is used by our welfare team to individualise and tailor that level of support to those who have served, those who are currently serving and the families in their times of need.”
Volunteers are the lifeblood of charities like Poppyscotland and although Kenny’s replacement has big shoes to fill, many other roles are available – even if you can donate an hour or two of your time weekly, it would help so much.
Mr Michie continued: “Volunteering with poppy Scotland, we hope that we can make a very rewarding experience is a very important volunteer role, as we have a duty of care to the nations symbol of remembrance,
“We’ve got great support we’ve got great camaraderie and we have volunteers from all walks of life from Cadet units, youth uniformed organisations through rotary clubs, church groups, to veterans Legion Scotland members, and they all come together, and they take the poppy out onto the streets to allow the public to make a donation.
“You could find yourself in a shopping arcade or a street corner, or a supermarket,
“What I can guarantee it is an amazing reaction from the members of the public, they’re so grateful that you volunteer for Poppyscotland the so welcoming and so thankful to you. We look for volunteers to do as little as one or two hours a week, or as many hours that they can give to us.
Although Kenny had a military background, this is not required to volunteer, and the charity looks for and welcomes those from all walks of life.
Mr Michie said: “It’s about that passion that you bring to the organisation your desire to help others. And that passion we want to harness is particularly good if you know the local area, and you’ve got a good network of friends and acquaintances, but that doesn’t matter either because there’s so much support from my team at head office actually to support you, but also the other local volunteers the long-standing volunteers in the area are there to support Kenny’s replacement going forwards,
“It’s one of these very special organisations, it really gets close to your heart, as many charities do but, because the, the involvement with that symbol of remembrance, you get a great return, an inward return and a feeling of complete satisfaction that you’ve done something good that you’ve been able to allow us to help others in need. You don’t need to have served to receive that feeling.
Mr Michie concluded by praising the volunteers and members of the public who, through their generosity, have made a difference to countless people’s lives:
“Every time I get the opportunity to speak to the Scottish public I just want to continue to call my thanks for the generosity of all our volunteers and their time and spirit, but also to the way the public who, every year, dig deep into the pockets on support of Scottish Poppy appeal, and particularly over this last 18 months when as a nation, we’ve come together, to hopefully very soon defeat the COVID 19 pandemic. If I can’t say thank you, I’m doing something wrong.
To get involved with PoppyScotland, you can call 0131 550 2559 and speak with Volunteer Development Officer, Ian Jackson, email at firstname.lastname@example.org or go online to: https://www.poppyscotland.org.uk/get-involved/volunteering