Melton’s new Poppy Appeal organiser says he wants to repair a ‘disconnect’ between younger members of the armed forces and the Royal British Legion.
David Bloom, whose 22-year career in the military finished in November 2015, has taken over from 84-year-old Jock Bryson, who organised collections across the borough for nine years.
And David (45) is keen to involve some of the service personnel he has served with as he prepares to sell poppies in the legion’s biggest annual fundraiser, which culminates in November’s Remembrance Day parade and services.
The organisation provides financial, social and emotional support to members and veterans of the British armed forces, their families and dependants but he says many of his contemporaries and younger soldiers do not engage with the legion as much as they could.
He told the Melton Times: “Hopefully it will help because I am a little bit younger than most of the other people on the committee.
“In the last 10 to 15 years there has been a little bit of a disconnect between some of the younger veterans leaving the forces and the legion.
“A lot of them tend to look at the legion as something connected more with the world wars that what they have done.
“There are a lot of people in the Melton area who are veterans and who don’t connect with the legion at the moment and I’m hoping to bring some of these into the fold.
“A lot of them will now get involved in charities such as Help for Heroes but they need to be aware that there is a lot that the legion can do for them.”
David has two young children with wife Clair, who also has five other children.
He was with the 9th/12th Royal Lancers, now known as The Royal Lancers after his former regiment merged with the Queen’s Royal Lancers.
David served tours of Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan, with he and his colleagues tasked with reconnaissance on the battlefield, scouting ahead to then call in heavy artillery, tanks or air strikes as required.
“I’ve lost comrades in action and I’ve also seen the good work the legion does to support the families of people who have been killed or injured,” he added.
“The Poppy Appeal is a great British tradition and something I believe should be carried on.
“It’s important to have Remembrance Day, not only for the fallen, but to remind people that there are many who have served who are suffering with physical and mental issues.”
Outgoing organiser Jock said he was relieved to have found a replacement because the job was proving challenging in his advancing years.
He has so far raised more than £24,000 for the Melton appeal for 2018 and similar amounts in the previous years.
Jock said: “David did some collections for the Poppy Appeal last year and I think he’ll do a good job.
“He’s got a lot of local connections with the military which will really help and hopefully some of them will get involved with the appeal.
“I’ll still be making collections and guiding David in his first year but I’m pleased to hand it over to him.”